In India, mental health is still a stigma. And Amaresh Nath is one of those enthusiastic people who wanted to change that. He started from nowhere and is now creating awareness about mental health in 3 cities. He is suffering from Cerebral Palsy(a rare condition which affects body movement and muscle coordination). He is passionate not only about his profession as a psychologist, but also in poetry, photography, traveling, cooking, and spirituality. He also loves writing fiction, especially in the genre of fantasy and has two published works in his name. Teaching is another experience he loves indulging in and has been a faculty at the Guwahati campus of TISS.
In his final year of college, while he was completing his masters in psychology, he and his friend Prarthana Prakash Sharma, started an initiative called Aatma Prakash, which back then was a counseling center at Indore. Along with individual and group counseling, they also began conducting experiential workshops.
His primary motivation was his passion for psychology. Another driving force was to remove the stigma against mental health.
The Highs And Lows
It all started as a desire to do something. The idea to create awareness about mental health began to take concrete shape thanks to the support of Prarthana’s family and a few other friends who wanted to be a part of the initiative. What Aatma Prakash Mental Health Foundation is today, is all because of their passionate core team.
There were many hurdles in this journey. Creating awareness about Mental Health in a country where it’s a taboo is a big challenge. What actually helped him overcome his challenges was persistence and networking; despite various setbacks, he kept on moving forward and through aggressive marketing, he has built a good network.
Personally, his condition sometimes makes it a little difficult. But he never lets that stop him from doing what he believes in. Amaresh says that in life we all have to deal with such situations. We have only 2 options- fight or flight. And according to him, the first option is more satisfying. Our growth depends on the choices we make. It’s either an opportunity for us or an obstacle- it’s the way we see it.
And when one actually goes out and makes things happen for them, they discover a part of themselves they never knew was in there.
He says that his proudest moment would be 15th of September, 2017, when they conducted a workshop to create awareness about alcoholism and provide skills to deal with the same. This was in collaboration with the social justice department and the Ministry of Health, Indore in front of around 250 guests.
Next step for him is to strengthen their hold in Delhi and Mumbai, and then expand to other parts of India and in the future, even take Aatma Prakash international and put it on the global map of mental health care.
The Support System
In all this he has always been supported by Prarthana; who not only inspires him with her incredible courage and willpower, to strive to do better, but she has also been a rock-solid pillar of support, always believing in him and being his parachute whenever he fell. Apart from her, his sister has been of tremendous help; motivating, guiding, and cheering him on.
Last but not the least, in this journey, a small circle of friends have also been his support system.
His advice to us
Follow your heart, for it shall always show you the right path…and if it feels right, don’t be afraid to take a few risks. The Society shall say a lot, but if it goes against what your heart tells you to do, don’t give in; it might not be easy, but the end results of your endeavors shall be beautiful. Also, don’t be afraid of two other things; failing, for it shall teach you what not to do, and asking for help (there is no shame in that), for no matter how strong you are, in the journey it is teamwork and cooperation that will take you the distance.