‘Mann Ki Baat’, a counselling service provider is celebrating its first anniversary. Read on to know how the idea for the initiative came about, the experience of the founders so far and what the future holds for the initiative.
How the idea germinated?
The pandemic has changed people’s lives in incomprehensible ways. Earlier the working men and women of the house used to go out for work, children used to be off to school, and homemakers were involved in their routine. The idea of opening a counselling centre was being formulated by the founders when the pandemic struck and the whole plan had to take a back seat. And the onset of the pandemic brought with it, a set of unique problems. They witnessed that all family members living under one roof together, 24/7 was not easy. Quarrels, domestic violence, depression, lack of mental peace in the household, lack of space, lack of “me” time, led to erosion of peace in the family structure. The extra care that everyone had to take concerning hygiene and masking up all the time was not an easy task.
However, with no sign of the pandemic ending anytime soon, the founders started looking into the idea of online counselling and the forum ‘Mann Ki Baat- a journey within’ came into being.
The name – ‘Mann Ki Baat’
This group of counsellors shortlisted many names but what was foremost on their minds was the need for a name that would immediately resonate with the people of India. They felt that since a majority of their clients were comfortable in using Hindi as a language for everyday use, they hit upon the name ‘Mann Ki Baat-a journey within’. The intention was that anyone could go to them and tell them about their ‘mann ki baat’ or whatever was on their mind and bothering them.
The aim. The intention.
‘Mann Ki Baat’ is an initiative that is all about creating mental health awareness and highlighting its importance in people’s lives, helping people understand how mental health relates to physical health and removing the stigma attached to mental illness. The founders say that, “We aim to make people realise that if they are going to a counsellor they are not ‘mad’ but want to deal with some aspects of their life which they are not happy about and which they cannot resolve on their own.”
According to them, visiting a mental health professional needs to be as normalised as consulting a doctor for physical ailments. While having a physical illness is not stigmatized at all, mental illness should also be looked at with the same non-judgemental lens. Unfortunately, for decades people suffering from mental health disorders have suffered in silence for the fear of being called crazy and mad. It is high time society accepts that one can have mental health issues in their daily lives also and still function normally.
How these homemakers ventured into counselling
All the founders started their journey as counsellors late in their lives. When they enrolled for the counselling course, they realised that they already possessed several of the qualities needed in a counsellor. To learn the process and other necessary skills, they initially completed a certificate course in basic counselling and from then on, kept upskilling themselves. They also completed courses in psychotherapy and relationship counselling. Interestingly, all of them were homemakers before venturing into counselling.
The founders have faced challenges in making their mental health service known to people. Not surprisingly, social media came to their rescue and learning the ropes of social media was quite pleasurable and satisfying in itself. They are also living examples for nay-sayers and ageists who believe that studying cannot be done after a certain age. They are the embodiment of the belief, “Our learning is that we should not go by the general perception of what a person can or cannot do but to bring it in ourselves the motivation and willingness to do so. Age is just a number and cannot define a person’s capabilities.”
A few milestones
Their first LIVE session on Facebook which was a panel discussion on Body-Shaming is still a memorable day for them. Another event they fondly cherish is when they conducted a deliberation on ‘Counselling- The Talking Remedy’ for the Rotary Club of Nepal.
Their body of work
These counsellors cater to issues in children above the age of 10, teenagers, young adults, geriatric population and undertake counselling for pre-marital issues, marital issues, relationship issues, middle-age concerns, anger, stress, self-esteem, and self-confidence issues.
Within a short period, they have already conducted workshops for DTPA (Direct Taxes Professional Association), EIRC (Eastern India Regional Council of Chartered Accountants), ACAE (Association of Corporate Advisors and Executives), several Rotary Clubs, Jain Vishva Bharti University, CAFÉ (Career After Family Enterprise), Agarwal Mahila Mandal of Bangalore and ladies wings of several residential complexes in Kolkata. They have also gone international with their deliberation on the Rotary Club of Calcutta Metropolitan. They have held panel discussions on ‘Body Shaming’, ‘Handling Criticism’, ‘No – Why is it so difficult to say this’ and ‘Love vs Respect.’
What the future holds
The group has a plethora of plans for the future including an aim to do deliberations in corporate settings, expanding the clientele globally, and delivering workshops internationally. They also intend to collaborate with other organisations and finally wish to build a strong brand so that people associate ‘Mann ki Baat’ as a counselling service.
Know the founders
- Saroj Agarwal, a mental health practitioner, life skills coach and motivational speaker has been trained in basic counselling, psychotherapy, and relationship counselling. Currently, she is pursuing PGDM in counselling. She has been a school counsellor in our Lady Queen of Missions School Salt Lake for about a year. She aims to bring into focus the stigma and the myths of counselling through deliberations on various prestigious platforms and is trying to break the stigma related to counselling. She has deliberated across various prestigious organizations and associations such as – Eastern Indian Regional Council of Chartered Accountants of India, Rotary Club of Calcutta, Association of Corporate advisors and executives, to name a few.
- Babita Jhunjhunwala wears many hats, that of a psychological counsellor, homemaker, mother, wife, daughter, daughter in law, and friend. She realized the importance and benefits of counselling when she had to visit a counsellor for her issues. She is a co-founder of ‘Mann ki Baat’, a member of WICCI National Childcare Council and co-counsellor in Safe Space which is a support group. She is trained in psychological counselling, psychotherapy, and relationship counselling. De-stigmatizing mental health and bringing awareness in society about the same is her priority and she believes that bringing a change in a person’s life might not change the world, but it would change the world of that one person. Her vision is to take ‘Mann ki Baat’ to such levels that whenever mental health is talked about, the first name which comes on everyone’s lips is ‘Mann ki Baat’.
- Rajshree Gaggar has a way with people. Her exuberant and compassionate nature enables her to help people pursue truly meaningful experiences, nurturing their relationships with themselves and others in the process. She has completed her Master’s in Psychology alongside completing several other courses related to healing such as psychotherapy, grief counselling for organ donation, relationship counselling, bach flower remedies and acupressure. Her empathetic and creative temperament led her to the art of theatre. Being a theatre artist allows her to delve deeper into the intricacies of human nature and relationships. She is particularly passionate about helping people navigate through the labyrinth of negative feelings. She believes that everyone goes through low points in life. We can always work on our problems and embrace resilience, no matter what!
- Renu Todi has primarily been a homemaker for the past 42 years. Having studied psychology in college and having a deep interest in this field she decided to study further to gain a deeper understanding and became a counsellor. She has always been a seeker of knowledge and strongly believes a positive attitude defines the quality of life one leads. Over the years she has consistently been doing many self-growth and self-evolving courses like pranic healing, past life regression, a one-year course on psychological counselling, psychotherapy, access bars, access foundation, manifestation and child counselling. She feels that an individual needs awareness and guidance to handle their life issues. And she has been helping people and wishes to reach out to help as many people as she can. Her motto is to help as many as she can to the fullest of her capacity and for that, she is delighted to be a part of ‘Mann ki Baat’.
You can find out more about the work ‘Mann Ki Baat’ is doing by connecting them with on: