Published: 22nd September 2021
How this 25-year-old Delhiite is batting for support groups so that you'll never walk alone
Medha Saharya's career as a mental health professional started with the pandemic. In an attempt to do her bit for mental health, Medha started Work_In_Progress
While the benefits of one-on-one therapy are expounded enough, Medha Saharya is a champion of support groups. You've got to hear it from the 25-year-old counselling psychologist herself when she says, "It's an activity that propels us to come together and break the stigma. For instance, when an individual from a completely different demographic comes forward to talk about their job loss and the subsequent insecurity that follows, another individual feeling the same will be encouraged to come forward and speak about their own job loss. The shame associated with our problems evaporates and, more importantly, we learn to see other people as human beings with their own problems."
The session, which is generally an hour and a half, is usually conducted at 5:30 PM but they are flexible as well
This is exactly what plays out at the weekly virtual sessions conducted by Work_In_Progress. The Delhiite even gives us the example of a participant who chose to stay on mute with their video off and would communicate only via the chat option on Zoom. By the fourth session, he felt comfortable enough to actually voice out and it was a-okay with the group because collectively, they understood that people need time. "Then, they eventually start to understand that sharing is not as scary as it sounds and collectively, we uphold the sensitivity required to facilitate such conversations," explains the youngster who holds a Master's degree in Counselling Psychology from Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health (BALM), Chennai.
One of their sessions
Medha's career as a mental health professional began with the toughest stretch of time that mankind is currently experiencing, the pandemic. Mental health became a mainstream conversation as we all grappled with ailments that we had no tools to deal with. "I felt it was my personal responsibility to nurture a community of people who are working on themselves," says Medha. That's how, in August 2020, Work_In_Progress began as an Instagram page, calling out to all those who needed help. The youngster singularly poured in all of her energy to come up with themes every month that this group has open conversations about, followed by art-based activities as well. One of the months was titled 'Letting Your Hair Down' and was all about self-care. Journaling was the activity carried out. Then came 'Finding the Silver Lining' that centred around resilience.
About ten is the maximum number of people admitted per session
"It's not that if you think positively all your problems will melt away. It is about acknowledging what we are facing, then talking about resilience. One of the threads of our conversations was about what happened during that week, which made us feel resilient and that made us all feel very powerful," she shares. The feeling of 'We've got this together' was the one that mattered the most. In this way, 240 people have felt empowered and Medha's special focus is always towards students because it is for this community that the sessions are offered at a discounted rate (Rs 300) as opposed to the Rs 400 per session everyone else pays. All in a bid to make therapy more accessible and affordable. In case participants come back with a request for individual therapy, they are referred to a psychologist. So, 5:30 PM this Sunday, on Zoom — you have a date with your mental health.
Why support group triumphs
- Support group promotes social skills and makes people feel like they are not alone with what they are struggling with
- It is powerful because it helps you both seek support from others and offer it to them as well leading to a therapeutic alliance
- Individuals develop self-awareness, empathy and learn how to listen to others when the occasion arises
- It is usually less expensive, make therapy more accessible to a wider range of people
For more on them check out instagram.com/w_i_p_initiative