Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.
This World Mental Health Day, we have Vidhi Tamboli in the spotlight. She’s a counselor and the founder of The Mood Space, an online counselling platform offering mental health therapy to South Asians across the world.
Tell us about your journey – what inspired you to start The Mood Space?
The journey started when I and my colleague, Rhea, moved to Virginia to do our undergraduate studies together. Moving to a new country, away from home, was a challenging experience. In those instances, we felt that there was a lack of support in terms of being able to talk about our emotions. Having grown up in a typical Indian family, where there was a stigma around mental health, we weren’t taught how to express our feelings. I later went on to pursue my Masters in Counseling Psychology from Columbia university. During my time in the US, I witnessed how people openly talk about their mental health. We wanted to bring mental health awareness in India, to demystify the stigma around therapy. This gave birth to The Mood Space in 2019.
How does your venture help meet mental health needs of South Asians globally?
We’re tackling the lack of awareness and building awareness through relatable content that everyone can understand. We use our platform to create communities, to create a familiar space where people can come and feel comfortable. We share recovery stories to not only motivate the ones telling them but also for others to see and understand that they are not alone. Through The Mood Space, we’re creating a larger impact for South Asians across the world, making therapy more accessible to them while matching them to a therapist who understands their specific needs.
What are some of the challenges you faced in your career as a mental health professional and how did you overcome them?
Starting a company in a space that’s highly stigmatised comes with a fair amount of challenges. Be it accessing people, to talk to them about something that they may not feel comfortable about or making them aware about the resources available, was a challenging experience. However, we tackled every challenge in our journey by taking one step at a time and creating solutions that make therapy more accessible to everyone.
What are some of the misconceptions around mental health that should end?
I think mental health, as a term, has been really misunderstood. Using terms like ‘ you’re crazy or ‘this is insane to someone taking therapy are traditional stereotypes of mental health illness that have been used widely around the country. Second is, thinking mental health illnesses are rare, which is not true. Every household, especially after the pandemic, is experiencing some level of stress, anxiety or relationship concerns. Another misconception is thinking that people with mental health illness can’t function well in a community. According to me, tackling this lack of understanding and creating awareness that mental health therapy is beneficial to everyone, is important, and that’s what we’re doing through The Mood Space.
How does Social Media help you in building awareness about mental health?
It’s a great platform to build awareness about mental health. There are some amazing pages where therapists talk about different areas of life. There are pages like The Mood Space where we post information and stories about mental health warriors who are battling with daily concerns but at the same time finding hope in the smallest of things that they do. Even when the pandemic hit and people were finding it difficult to express themselves, social media was the place that helped us to connect to them, to help them realise that they are not alone.
What are some tips people should follow to mindfully consume Social Media?
Social Media comes with a lot of positive aspects as well as with some negativity. One suggestion that I would like to give is, pick and choose who you’re following. For example, if you follow news or media channels that constantly throw information at you or influencers who make you feel insecure about how you look or feel, you can become anxious. Long hours of scrolling, comparing yourself to others on social media creates a lot of pressure. Having said that, there are also many pages on social media that help you gain information and alleviate your stress. So, being able to draw that line and understanding how you’re consuming social media is important.
Which are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media and why?
There are many accounts that are doing good work, However, I think people should make a personal choice about the kind of content that works best for them. For example, I follow Satvic Movement that can be useful for people to understand health better and connect to mother nature. Another account is Good Vibes that many love to follow.
Since many people are working from home now, what advice would you give them to stay mentally well and healthy?
- Focus on nutrition
- Focus on your hydration levels
- Find your focus in the present. When you find yourself overthinking about the past or your future, bring yourself in the moment.
- Develop self-care practices depending on what you like, be it reading, working out, playing a musical instrument, etc.
Where can people get in touch with you?
Instagram: The Mood Space
Facebook: The Mood Space