As DaanUtsav celebrations sky rocket despite lockdown, mental health becomes a core issue of discussion and support

All of which goes to show that innately no matter what the circumstances people truly love accessing this joy!

DaanUtsav - India’s biggest festival of giving happens every year from 2nd-8th October. During the festival people from all walks of life do acts of kindness to experience the Joy of Giving. This year despite the compassion fatigue that people were experiencing, there has still been a massive show of solidarity and immense “Giving!” 

All of which goes to show that innately no matter what the circumstances people truly love accessing this joy! 

The usual acts of kindness that people do every year from supporting of NGOs, Wishtrees, Gyan Daan, and Shram Daan continue, and are now even larger during this week as many activities have gone virtual, leading to even greater scale.

A huge SEVA Mela, Poker and Bingo are happening online to raise funds for causes, especially in the areas of youth, leadership, and mental health sectors. 

 We’ve seen the rise of substance use, depression, anxiety, stress, domestic violence, and unfortunately suicides over the past number of years and more dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Well-being Crusader and Mental Health Advocate Nina Kler has partnered with Dr. Raghu Appasani, Founder & CEO The MINDS Foundation to do a series of panel conversations on important mental health topics and free mental wellness checks. 

The speakers are an interesting mix of people from the Entertainment, Communications, Medical, and Mindfulness spaces. 

Joining them have been Famous Hollywood Big Bang Theory actress Alessandra Torresani, TV personality, actor and video blogger Shira Lazar, Global Wellness Icon Sunaina Rekhi along with other important names from the mental health space will be talking on how to change the portrayal of mental health in media, the various treatment modalities and how to establish your own mental health hygiene through self-care. 

This happened right at the heels of Alessandra becoming an Ambassador at the MINDS Foundation and Nina becoming a board member.

On the occasion of the festival Alessandra shared that, “Being an ambassador of The MINDS Foundation has already been so powerful. The message of mental health awareness is so strong with MINDS and aligns perfectly with my personal message of creating a stigma free world with my platform, EmotionAL Support.” Alessandra runs a podcast EmotionAL Support, making the conversation around mental health accessible to all. Hence, being part of the celebration no matter from where in the world came organically to her.

Nina Kler has been a volunteer for Daan Utsav since 8 years. She says, “I have benefitted tremendously from engaging with the volunteers over the years and learning about giving, seeing the inherent goodness of people come to the forefront during the festival has helped me fortify my own mental health journey and faith in people. This year I am very excited to be able to partner with Raghu to be having these meaningful conversations and offering free mental wellness checks.”

For Dr. Raghu Appasani this week of giving leads up to the launch of the movie Smile Simi on World Mental Health Day October 10th. The film is a short film exploring a families mental health journey, a collaboration of the foundation with Malathi Rai, directed by Kabir Thapar Productions with title song sung by legend Sonu Nigam. Additionally, MINDS will be releasing a conversation on Finding Mental Health in Community in partnership with globally known musician, Lauv, his foundation--The Blue Boy Foundation, and Microsoft on World Mental Health Day. Panelists include KPOP start Kim Byeongkwan from A.C.E., Soul Pop-singer-songwriter Paige Space from New Zealand, and MINDS Ambassador and singer-songwriter artist Maalavika Manoj from India. Look out also for a live conversation on Mental Dominance (Rukus Avenue Radio) in which he will be discussing his own mental health, how to build your mental hygiene toolkit, and stigma in the South Asian community.

For Dr. Appasani, mental health is his identity, “I started working in the field of neuroscience, consciousness science, and psychiatry when I was 12 years old. Researching how memory is formed, discovering pathways for addiction and depression, and diving into the human experience to combat human suffering. He founded The MINDS Foundation over 10 years ago when he was 20 years old with the vision of creating a world in which anyone, anywhere can access the mental health resources they deserve whilst being supported by a community expressing empathy, compassion, and love.” The MINDS Foundation excited to announce the joining of three passionate mental health advocates as part of their new Voices of MINDS Ambassador Program. Joining MINDS will be Hollywood Actress Alessandra Torresani, Singer-Songwriter Maalavika Manoj, and Model/Scientist/Entrepreneur Megan Pormer. 

This DaanUtsav apart from the celebrating the festival of giving, Project Mumbai has launched a unique community sharing and coping initiative on mental health called Emotional Express.

Founder Project Mumbai Shishir Joshi shared their plans for the festival this year, “Starting October 2 and culminating on Mental health day that is October 10 Project Mumbai's  _Emotion Express_ - is a step towards creating a storehouse of coping resources created by the community for the community, and curated by mental health professionals.

The initiative urges people to come together to share our coping mechanisms with each other.”

He shared that, “The response has been fantastic with young and old sharing songs which lifted their mood when they were low, poems which encouraged them when spirits were down and prayers which got families together.

PROJECT Mumbai will then compile and share a comprehensive tool book based on all your resources on the 10th of October, which is World Mental Health Day.”

A number of NGOs like Pravah and MASH Projects Foundation are doing work in helping build leadership and volunteering skills.


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