Keeping up with an advancing world we rarely check up on ourselves. You can dedicate time to do certain tasks but if you do not have the right energy to complete them then it’s all in vain. With all of the crazy things happening in the world, you should try finding a work/life balance by checking in with your emotions throughout the day; avoiding work during your breaks; and staying motivated throughout the day by blocking out times in your schedule to get physical activity and body movement. A good way to check in with your emotion would be through positive affirmation. It is a method of self-talk; basically how we talk to ourselves and what we tell ourselves. Keeping this in your daily routine can help you stay mindful to replace negative self-talk with a positive affirmation. It’s only when we are completely aware of our emotions, our strengths, and our weaknesses that we will know ourselves better.
A better tomorrow starts when you work Towards A Better You today.A Better You
A Better You is a mental health service in Goa founded by Ketaki Thanki and Talasha Sawant. They encourage people to be kind to themselves and others. According to them, one doesn’t have to fight all his/her battles alone. They strongly believe that we can make ourselves and the world better if we focus on taking care of ourselves first. We often ignore the fact that mental health and physical health are closely related to and impact each other strongly. With A Better You they hope to raise awareness on this connection and also do away with the stigma that you must visit a counselor only if you are weak or crazy.
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At Goan Insider we sat down with Ketaki and Talasha to know about the ideals of A Better You and to know how they are trying to make mental health accessible for all. The excerpts of our conversation are below.
Tell us a little about the founder(s) and their connection to mental health
Ketaki: I am the founder of “A Better You“. I am a performing artist and a choreographer, long before I started my career in mental health. Although I was the happiest when I was dancing I always felt that there was a part that was missing. I realized that I liked listening and being there for people and I wanted to enhance that. That’s how my journey began in the field of mental health.
Talasha: I was already pursuing my bachelor’s in psychology and always had a keen interest in community outreach. I am the co-founder with Ketaki.
What inspired you to start “A Better You”? What is the idea behind the name?
Ketaki: It all began with an encounter at the beach that ignited a conversation about the pain and suffering individuals go through. We spoke for long hours on how we can reach out and what would be the crux of the work we do. During one such conversation in the car, it all boiled down to the individual. We can make ourselves better and make the world better if we focus on taking care of ourselves first. We can better ourselves by working towards building ourselves up. That’s how “ A Better You” came into existence.
Talasha: A Better You is created with an intention to create awareness about the importance of taking care of oneself and to highlight the importance of mental health being as important as physical health. It is an initiative oriented towards bringing about change, a new perspective.
Why have you chosen to follow the branch of positive psychology as compared to other schools of psychology?
Ketaki: Both of us have studied Wellness Counseling at The Nirmala Institute of Education, Panjim. We both joined the course for different reasons. I found that this was the only course that offered a master’s degree to students from non-psychology backgrounds.
Talasha: I, on the other hand, had plans to join another college. When those plans didn’t come to fruition, my lecturer re-directed me to this course. I do not regret that decision one bit. Despite the circumstances due to which we both took up the course, we are immensely grateful for the way things turned out for us. The course is so hands-on, it is designed in such a way that it allows students to do their own research on topics and stay up to date with emerging findings. We also had a lot of practice counseling sessions with our classmates which not only allowed us to learn counseling skills, but it helped us become aware of our strengths as well as shortcomings. Wellness Counselling has added immense value to our personal and professional lives.
What are some of the challenges/ issues you currently face or faced with setting up?
Ketaki: The first big hurdle was figuring out how to set up an online counseling platform. This was very confusing because there was no resource available that let us know the step by step procedure. Secondly, it is just the two of us managing everything right from social media campaigns to designing workshops to building our social media presence.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about what you do?
Talasha: Since we follow the school of positive psychology people think that we only focus on the positive and ignore the negative, which is not the case. Sometimes people think that wellness counselors and counselors from the traditional branch of psychology are the same. We follow a strength-based approach which the traditional branch of psychology does not.
Mental health carries with itself a negative stigma in India and persons suffering from mental health issues are often shunned from society and suffer several injustices. How would “A Better You” help mental health patients understand and gain access to their rights?
Ketaki: Like physical health, everyone has mental health. It may be positive or negative. Mental illness on the other hand affects a person’s ability to function over a long period of time. Because of the shame and blame sometimes associated with mental illness and mental health, many people feel like they can’t reach out for help. A Better You was created with the vision of making mental health services accessible and we are constantly working towards destigmatizing this shame.
Talasha: Our plan with A Better You is to create a platform where we educate everyone either through our social media platforms or through in-person sessions. We want to educate everyone on the difference between mental health and illness, educate them about the different professionals within the field of mental health, and encourage them to seek their help. We also aim to simultaneously educate them on their rights within therapy.
What are schools of psychology or therapeutic techniques do you see yourself embracing in the future?
Ketaki: In the future both of us are planning to expand our skillset. I am planning to specialize in dance movement therapy, expressive art therapy, and in child and family counseling.
Talasha: I would like to pursue mindfulness-based cognitive therapy as well as further expand my knowledge in positive psychology.
What would be your short-term agendas for the betterment of mental health in Goa?
Ketaki: As we mentioned earlier, we aim to start counseling sessions at an affordable rate, conduct workshops, and also collaborate with different organizations and individuals to spread awareness.
According to you, how can one ensure that evidence-based programmes/ therapies are properly implemented?
Talasha: There is no official body that basically does a quality check on counselors who provide counseling. Thus, there is no regulation. We, therefore, need such a body in India. We think that mental health professionals need to hold themselves accountable and practice evidence-based therapies.
Tell us what a day at your organization looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you start operations till you stop them for the day.
Ketaki: Since A Better You was started during the pandemic, both of us have managed to run it through constant online meetings. We have a weekly team meeting to brainstorm ideas for our content, plan weekly deadlines, etc. Once both of us have planned our targets, we get towards executing our ideas. I regularly attend different workshops, and webinars on designing and learning about content management, social media management, researching ideas for our content, etc.
Talasha: My day is a little different since I am working elsewhere full time. My lunch breaks usually consist of replying to Ketaki’s voice messages and giving feedback on ideas and campaigns. I usually work on researching content on the weekends or after my workday. Both of us also work towards keeping ourselves updated on the new developments happening in the field.
If you had a magic wand, what changes would you make towards the idea/ misconceptions of mental health in Goa?
Ketaki: If we had a magic wand we would change the misconception that one needs to visit a counselor or therapist only when you have problems. The other misconception we would definitely do away with is that people who seek help are crazy or weak. We would also love to include mental health education as part of the academic curriculum across all ages. Lastly, we would sprinkle a little empathy and kindness on everyone.
What gets you excited about ‘A Better You”’?
Talasha: For us it is waking up every day and brainstorming new ideas, bringing these ideas to life so that we can provide quality knowledge related to mental health. What gets us most excited is working towards building a dream that makes mental health accessible for all.
What are some of the activities planned for the future?
Ketaki: Currently have already launched our online counseling and workshop services on the 17th of October as planned. In the foreseeable future, we want to set a headquarters for A Better You in Goa and expand our team.
What is the ultimate goal/ vision with “A Better You”?
Talasha: The ultimate goal we have is to build a center that caters to almost everyone’s needs. We aim to have professionals specializing in different branches of mental wellbeing under one roof.
How can our readers stay connected with you as well as your brand?
Ketaki: For appointments and inquiries you can get in touch with us via email at email@example.com. To stay up-to-date with our events follow our social media accounts Towards A Better You on Instagram and Facebook.
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