Hi, I’m Shalmali, a graduate student and mental health advocate from Pune. I conduct workshops, seminars and lectures on mental health and suicide prevention in youth through my little organization called ‘Empathy For You’
I was in 12th when the issue of mental health hit me first. I was going through that phase called ‘mini-depression’, and realized that most of the youngsters were facing the same problem at that time. I went through this phase myself but got to know we need to talk about it and hear them out. Later then, I got a very different experience. It was a bright sunny day in June, my sister was sitting on the edge of her bed. I happened to accidentally open her room and what I found was, she was sitting with a bottle of pills in her left hand and heap of tablets in her right. The ceiling lamp hanging on her and her computer open with a goodbye letter. She had committed suicide. What if for at least one time I would have spoken to her and not as a sister but as her friend. Her goodbye letter said, she had a feeling that nobody loves her, nobody needs her and her existence is ruthless. I lost my sister due to depression and anxiety.
Recently, I founded a nonprofit organization called “Empathy 4 You”, working for raising mental health awareness and breaking the stigma of mental health in the youth. Initially, I used to counsel people online via social media. It wasn’t prof counseling at that time, but at least I was able to read and understand them. And till now, I have counseled 600 people, the happiness I get after seeing smile on someone’s smile because of me is what keeps me going. Later then, we started conducting lectures, seminars in schools and colleges for raising mental health awareness among the youth through E4U. Recently we also collaborated with a California Based organization called ‘Letters to Strangers’.
In the future, I plan my post graduation in Psychology and focus on how I can make a difference in the society. That feeling of making someone’s day is very very satisfying!