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The student behind a global wellbeing movement

Words by Smiley Team

In the nerve-wracking transition between school and university, Manasi Gupta, like many others, struggled with anxiety. 

It was the beginning of 2019 when the stigma surrounding mental health was staggering. But throughout all her time in school, Manasi had never learnt about mental health and the sudden, unexpected challenge transformed her life.

Importantly, the experience revealed to her the severe taboos around mental health, especially in India, where she lives. Through her struggle, she learned first-hand that people desperately needed support. 

Manasi tells Smiley News: “I wasn't even aware of what was happening to me. So I didn’t know how to deal with it or who to go to either. And that's when I recognised the glaring lack of non-judgmental spaces to express yourself.”

Coming from a relatively well off family, the BTech student also realised that if it was difficult for her, it must be even more difficult for deprived people in India. 

Then she decided to do something incredibly brave.

“When I was going through the anxiety of my own, I shared my experiences with my peers and all the other students in university,” she recounts.

Through this one act of courage, she discovered that many others had had similar experiences. With so many people coming forward to say they too had struggled, she began to wonder why nobody else was talking about mental health. 

[Read more positive stories from Smiley News about initiatives driving positive change for people and planet]

She decided that if this was such a widespread issue it was vital for young people to share their stories in order to overcome the taboo as she had done herself. It would help people recognise the issues around mental health and encourage people to seek help.

This is how she set up Huesofthemind, a student-led organisation helping young people with their wellbeing. With an initial team of ten other students, Manasi ran a two-day conference to mark World Mental Health Day 2020. They invited all kinds of expert speakers, from a hypnotherapist to an art therapist who led online workshops to share coping techniques.

Later, they developed more ambitious goals to help connect people across 20 Indian cities with affordable and reliable mental health professionals. They collaborated with colleges and other youth-led organisations, spreading the word about their initiative.

To encourage more communities to speak out they published a book called Hues of You, consisting of articles, poems and more that tackle mental health stigma. 

In the space of under three years, the organisation caught the attention of students worldwide and gained commendations from high places. In recognition of their efforts, the former Indian health secretary awarded the young advocates with an IHW Digital Health Award for their dedication.

But they won’t stop there. Drawing on her tech background, Manasi intends to build on her previous work by harnessing the incredible potential of EdTech to build greater momentum around people’s wellbeing.

Inspired to act?

JOIN: To get involved with the movement for better mental health among young people, join Huesofthemind.

FOLLOW: Keep up to date with advice and stories from young people by following them on Instagram, @huesofthemind.


This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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