Varalika Mishra, 28 is a Mental Health Advocate, Education Analyst, Journalist & Poet. She is currently working in an international consultancy firm as an education analyst. She is also a freelance journalist for Meghalaya Times. She started an initiative on mental health, in December 2019 – ‘Your Story Is Important’. On this Facebook page, she conducts dialogues and conversations with people who have had experiences with mental health issues and who closely work for this cause.

The project – ‘Your Story Is Important’ gives a platform to everyone to share their story of mental health. It believes, each person’s trauma is valid and every individual is important, regardless of caste, class and gender. The mission is to remove the stigma attached to Mental Health and normalize conversations around Mental Well-Being.

Core motivation of starting the project: Personal experience of depression and anxiety compelled her to start this initiative and be a listener to the world. Due to the increase in the number of suicides and bullying taking place in the world, it became imperative to talk and discuss about mental health.

Main objective/purpose of the project: To remove the stigma attached to mental health and make it a part of everyday conversation, and not just on World Mental Health Day or Suicide Prevention Day.

Key project themes: Emotions, mental well-being, mind and body, dance therapy, music therapy, exercise, acceptance, empathy, compassion, equality, depression (for both women and men), anxiety, acid attack survivors, survivors, ‘dark skin is beautiful’, eliminating body shaming.

Modalities of the project: Online talks, virtual live chats

Past guests: Mr. Vijay Lokapally (Former Deputy Editor of The Hindu), Ms Lalitha Kumaramangalam (Former Chairperson, National Commission for Women), Cancer Survivor, Various psychologists, counsellors and people sharing their experiences.

Future Plan for the project: To conduct more conversations around pertinent issues and engage with people to break the stereotypical notion around mental health.
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