As a child, I had zero self-confidence because I thought I wasn't pretty like others and that had a long-lasting effect on my mental health...reads an excerpt from one of the posts on the Instagram page ‘Humans of Kerala’. With over 38000 followers and with the aim of capturing the essence of the community, this is a page that has a story to tell of the ordinary and extraordinary, of the people who go about their seemingly usual days, of the ones who make a difference in the world. The team has now scaled their project and launched their very own app and platform ‘The Yellow Club’ which aims to provide mental healthcare to every citizen across the country.
How did ‘Humans of Kerala’ start?
Started by Rahul Roy and Sanjna Elizabeth, the platform has become a sort of safe space for the people of the south to share their life stories and have them resonate with others. Through Instagram, the team has been retelling these impactful tales of valour and spreading positive vibes. How do they do this? They go around the city looking for stories that have something more than just what meets the eye, tales of survival, of victory, of overcoming the battles of every day, of being unique, of setting an example, of simply living.
How did it all start?
Rahul says the inception of the platform was immediately following the Kerala floods of 2018. “We started by trying to accommodate the stories of different people. During the span of time between 2019-2020, the response was not as much as we expected it to be. People wouldn't share or comment on posts about mental health that were put up on the platform.” However, the turning point was the pandemic.
How did mental health become the focus of the platform?
“The youth began noticing that topics of mental health deserve attention and these conversations got a boost.” On World Mental Health Day, the team set up outreach programmes, webinars etc. to get conversations going around trauma, anxiety and other issues and the response they received was great. “We decided to continue,” says Rahul. “With all the stories we were receiving overtime, we noticed a pattern. There were many that revolved around mental health and these stories were sent in majorly by youth who wanted to share their experience as they did not want others to go through the same. A majority of people who had mental health issues did not know an exact reason for it. Through the page, we tried to highlight that this was normal and especially as a generation that has been through a pandemic and lockdown that upturned our lives, we should normalise these things of overwhelm.”
The stories were coming in large numbers, says Rahul. “We understood they were suffering in isolation and didn't have anyone to relate to, and we thought why not focus on the issue of mental health as a theme in itself and get more narratives on the subject and normalise this.”
Cut to the present day where the team has an app ‘The Yellow Club’ that solely focuses on mental health.
The Yellow Club: An app by the Humans of Kerala team
“We try to make mental health more accessible to everyone and to take the initiative forward. We try to make mental health a major topic,” says Rahul highlighting the goals of Yellow Club. “In addition to Humans of Kerala being a story sharing platform where people can get talking about their struggles and victories, the app offers awareness about who they should reach out to in case they are struggling with issues they cannot speak about.”
People can reach out to a practitioner and the app is the next step. “Through Yellow Club, the journey to mental well being is not only affordable but also private.” Rahul explains that these are two very real concerns that young people have. This as college students cannot afford expensive therapy sessions and thus the affordability of it is a plus. Most people who seek therapy, explains Rahul, wish to do so without others getting to know about it and thus the encryption feature of the app will ensure your details are not divulged to others on the app.
How can one seek therapy through Yellow Club app?
All you have to do is download the app from the Playstore, log in and find a therapist of your choice from anywhere in India. “We have concentrated and pooled in the least affordable practitioners from around the country who align with what we wished the platform to reflect.” Find a quality practitioner beginning from Rs 250 to 300 which is the minimum rate and this can go to a maximum of Rs 1000 if you wish to pay so much for a session, he says. As the app was born out of the pandemic, the team has witnessed around 90 per cent of people who have used the app are using a mental health service for the first time. “People are adapting and we are trying to make it a safe space.”