Have you ever found yourself lost, even when you were surrounded by people? Sad even when the festive mood was ringing around? Do you find yourself always disturbed by thoughts and these ruin your mood and in turn your days?
Being strong mentally is of prime importance and healthy body will be useless or in fact dangerous without a healthy mind. Here is a group of young problem solvers who identified the supreme role that mental health and awareness about mental problems play in our day-to-day lives.
In conversation with Rahul Roy, founder of the Yellow Club, trying to bring some colors to the cloudy lives, bringing solution to your problems at your fingertips.
Tell us about Yellow Club. What is this venture about?
Yellow Club is an initiative in making mental health services more accessible and affordable to people. At Yellow Club, we are working on different methods and ways in which we can make this a reality. We have brought the idea of consultation- like the physical consultation process – to an online safe environment, where people can chat with each other or with their therapists and address their problems. So people who have been suffering from any mental struggle can access a practitioner more easily and at Yellow Club, we are providing a pool of activities and we are trying to bridge the gap between the practitioner’s availability and their demand among the public.
We have created a provision of group therapy, wherein people with similar problems can come together and can know more about the issues disturbing their minds.
What led to the Yellow Club? What is the story behind it?
The story begins from my college days. After getting some exposure to mental health through sessions arranged by the college, we started an online story-sharing platform called Humans Of Kerala. We started getting so many stories of people, especially youth, who started addressing mental health issues. This was back in 2019. Through Humans of Kerala, we created an online platform that was dedicated to mental health and we started spreading awareness about it.
We started the initiative, The Yellow Club, on October 12th, the world mental Health day 2019, through a workshop that we conducted at Donut Factory, Panampally Nagar. So that’s how it started, and since then, we have continued with such workshops in several other cities. The whole game changed after the Covid scenario when everything got shifted to online. We then started stressing the importance of technology and which later became the objective of Yellow Club .i.e. to use the technology in achieving our objective-of addressing mental issues.
What are the services you offer at Yellow Club and how do you see this helping the community overcome the stigma around mental health?
We offer services in two categories: as group sessions and individual sessions.People would most probably start with the group session where they get to know more about mental health and they try to get their doubts resolved and maybe after getting this initial exposure, they opt for a personal one to one session because not a lot of issues can be mentioned in a group session and it would always require a personal intervention into your problems to find an accurate solution. We started this new initiative wherein which we offer mental health sessions, training programs, and life skill training, etc at schools starting from primary schools to higher secondary level. We’ve been running these sessions in many schools since August and we look forward topo scaling this up to include a lot more schools.
Tell us more about your online mental health workshops and sessions. How have the responses been?
The response to online mental health workshops has been amazing. During the quarantine, when it started, we introduced these online sessions, mainly group sessions, A lot of people texted us, saying that it was very informative and effective and we even ended up creating an exclusive group of members who attended our sessions who further wanted to keep in touch with us and know more about us. We also have a group of around 100 members who have been participants in these sessions. So, I think this has been highly effective and that has been the case with schools as well.
We are building on an exclusive Yellow Club platform- an application that will cater to mental health and will have all the services that we offer, available at a one-touch distance from you; where you can avail all these services and this exclusive platform will be available on Play Store.
What is “YC@School” ? What led to its inception?
YC@School is a year-long project that we will undertake in each school. Throughout the year, we will focus on different vital themes and we will work on those themes with the students, teachers, school authorities, and parents. So, we identify all these stakeholders as very important factors in the development of a child’s personality and overall development. So we’ve created a module, a comprehensive plan, that will address all these stakeholders and not just the children, and we will be focusing on specific themes that will be impactful and very crucial for us to deliver the set of skills that are required for making them capable and aware of themselves, also aiding to their productivity and academics. We are also devising some methods that will provide some sort of report or some sort of analysis of the growth, and these will be catered to all the stakeholders. We would like to reinforce that this is not going to be evaluated, in terms of comparative evaluation, but rather aiming at a systemic development, we will be provided with recommendations and useful input into the development. So, this is a very elaborate and a bit of a complex thing, but we are starting with this in all the schools possibly from 2021 onwards. So this is a huge project through which we are trying to make a huge impact on future generations.
How has social media platforms like Instagram helped you spread awareness and contact people?
I think the Yellow Club couldn’t have been possible without social media . We see social media as a crucial part of social life. When it comes to making a positive impact for something like the Yellow Club, or any movement, it is a very useful platform where we could create more impact with much less investment . So, I think it has to be used in a very positive manner for us to make an real effect between the masses.
What do you think are the misconceptions people have about Yellow Club? What is the reality?
The primary misconception that many people have about Yellow Club is that it is just an Instagram page and that it’s just the content that we run on Instagram. I think it’s not just a misconception but it’s also our responsibility and our limitation as a platform, that we could not communicate much about the services that we offer, or the other things that we provide. We are not just restricting ourselves to one post, but we have a solution for every problem that you have, or for every subject that we address in our content, we provide a solution. People have to think about the Yellow Club as an educator and also as a solution provider. I think that is our task, moving ahead.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
The initial members and the founding members were my colleagues and my childhood friends. The first discussions about the Yellow Club were between me and Subin Saji. He has been my childhood friend and we were closely working on different ideas. He was also into Social entrepreneurship wanted to make an impact. Then I had some colleagues from my college, especially Sanjana, Nitin Abraham, and Danny Mathew. Some of my colleagues from my college also contributed to it initially and all of us had a similar exposure or a similar understanding about the need for mental health and the need for spreading mental awareness, so it was only a matter of time. But we were not just the only people who were working on it. Other people joined us, like Milan Reio. She is another friend and was very passionate to hear about the idea. Then we have the crucial team that is working on the technology that we are developing. It is mainly run by Lino Thomas. I met him through one of my close friends from school , Navneet and he is also working on the technology of the app.
At present, Subin and myself are working full time. For personal reasons, others opted out or are not working as continuous members, anymore, but this has been the founding story behind Yellow Club.
What are you future plans for the Yellow Club? How do you see it impacting people’s lives?
The Yellow Club is the beginning of a new realization, a new shift in the paradigm that we all did possess traditionally. This is going to make a huge difference in everybody’s life. It is because, in theory, we know that mental health is equally important as physical health but that is coming into practice very slowly and we are very proud that we are at the forefront of such a revolution and are spreading the awareness. This is a huge responsibility and we are honored to realize that a huge impact is going to be created in society at large because of our initiative. With that, I would also like to mention the YC@Campus program, where we are having a similar approach to YC@School. We are trying to set up Yellow Clubs at different campuses and the idea behind that is that we create different peer-support groups in each college because the youth is the primary victim of mental health struggles. So, in general, we wanted to create peer support communities in each college where there are safer core systems wherein they could address the issues and talk about mental. We believe that this is a starting of a revolution that will be carried forward and we are proud that we are one of the pioneer initiators towards this.
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