New Delhi | Agastyaa Gupta: Often the most challenging ailments have no physical sign. Mental health is a subject, parts of which seem insurmountable even for modern medical science. Like several health problems, issues of the human brain also, benefit immensely from an environment that is conducive.

It was heartening to see a fellow student Kareena Goyal attempting to alleviate the hardships of those affected by neurological constraints. A 16-year-old student from Vasant Valley School, she did not have to seek inspiration from outside. Her elder brother has suffered autism that perhaps explained the natural compassion she felt for the cause. Sensitivity and sympathy while essential virtues are often by themselves insufficient to bring about a change. Only if the sentiment is so profound so as to prompt you into action, if you can infuse sympathy with empathy, will the world witness a tangible positive manifestation.

Kareena associated with like-minded friends and reached out to children afflicted with autism and cerebral palsy. The intent was to engage them in productive and recreational activities. Since physical interaction was not an option during Covid times, this group of enthusiastic young adults, transited to video conferencing through Zoom and other such applications. They consulted with mental health experts who helped them curate activities suitable for the age and stage of children they had contacted. They propagated their idea through conventional word of mouth, pamphlets, leaflets and social media. The weekly interactive sessions soon gained in popularity and number of participants swelled. The endeavor continues and even professional doctors commended it.

During pandemic times, when people across the world were at the risk of loneliness and depression, it wasn’t unexpected for mental health victims to be still more vulnerable. Autism is a disability where one of the main challenges is social skill and communication. Entertainment is an important yet at times neglected part of dealing with and healing such special children. The need for fun is integral for them like it is for other humans.

The civilised world must stop stigmatizing mental health problems. Every human being has a right to live with dignity and laughter and joy should touch every life. Only when we internalise this learning, the world will become a more beautiful place reaching out to even the weakest.       

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma