In a world where mental health struggles often remain shrouded in silence, one individual is breaking the barriers of stigma and reaching out to those in need. Sidhesh Lokare, known as @sidiously on social media, has embarked on a groundbreaking initiative to address the mental health crisis in India – the Mental Health Ambulance Project.
We are in an era where acknowledging mental health issues is a battle in itself, and Sidhesh’s project is a ray of hope for those who find it challenging to seek help. The concept revolves around a free therapy mobile van that travels across the country, providing psychological support to individuals struggling with mental health issues.
With over 245K followers on Instagram, Sidhesh shares the personal motivations behind the project, stemming from a profound realization of the need for therapy in his own life, influenced by his father’s clinical depression and personal struggles with creativity. Sidhesh aims to create a mobile space that caters to mental health on every level and emphasizes the importance of vulnerability, breaking the conditioned reluctance to accept mental health problems.
“I strongly believe we’re all just one conversation away from discovering the problem. Some of us need more help than others to have that one conversation. The reason we don’t seek therapy is because we don’t want to accept that there is a problem, mainly because of conditioning and our experiences.” Sidhesh passionately remarked.
He adds, “The aim is to tell people they can be vulnerable in any situation, irrespective of their gender or what another person thinks of them. We have so far covered two cities, Mumbai and Pune, and have reached out to 25 people through this effort.We have saved around Rs. 70,000 for all these people for one therapy session. The therapist is like a diary who will listen to you, not respond to you unless you want them to. Of all the people in Mumbai who took their first session, 40% of them went for a second session with the therapist later. That is the impact this project has had. If this project makes even one person feel better, it would mean the world to me.”
To turn this vision into reality, Sidhesh partnered with psychologist Kshipra, whose expertise and dedication have played a pivotal role in making the Mental Health Ambulance Project successful. Dr. Kshipra, a seasoned psychologist with a deep commitment to destigmatizing mental health, shares Sidhesh’s vision of creating a safe space for individuals to discuss their struggles openly.
“After 11 years in this profession and a lifetime in Pune, I quickly connect with people. This project is unique in my entire career. Listening to people for nearly 8 hours, I’m surprised at their strength amid challenges. To summarize, I can say that it is essential for us to work on ourselves. If we do not love ourselves, If we don’t accept ourselves or care about ourselves, then we can’t expect others to do the same. We should take our lives seriously, but not so much that it takes a toll on us because we have one life, and it is in our hands to live it to the fullest and enjoy every moment.”
One of the participants in the project, actor and model Asha Rajgor, shared her experience: “It was truly transformative. I sensed a knot within me finally loosening, allowing me to breathe freely. I wholeheartedly advocate therapy for everyone, even if we hesitate to acknowledge our mental health challenges. In just one session, I have discovered new things about myself. Experiencing therapy once can genuinely propel you towards becoming a better version of yourself.”
As the Mental Health Ambulance Project continues its journey across India, Sidhesh Lokare’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. The project is a beacon of hope, reminding individuals that they are not alone in their battles. In a world that often overlooks mental health, Sidhesh is leading the way, proving that compassion, understanding, and support can heal the wounds that go unseen.
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