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As DaanUtsav Celebrations Sky Rocket Despite Lockdown, Mental Health becomes a Core Issue of Discussion and Support

Press Release

DaanUtsav – India’s biggest festival of giving happens every year from 2nd-8th October. During the festival people from all walks of life do acts of kindness to experience the Joy of Giving. This year despite the compassion fatigue that people were experiencing, there has still been a massive show of solidarity and immense “Giving!” All of which goes to show that innately no matter what the circumstances people truly love accessing this joy!


Left to right Clockwise: Nina Kler; Shira Lazar; Raghu Appasani, Md; Richa Kalra, Md; Neelu Vyas


Well-being Crusader and Mental Health Advocate Nina Kler has partnered with Dr. Raghu Appasani, Founder & CEO The MINDS Foundation to do a series of panel conversations on important mental health topics and free mental wellness checks. 


Left to right Clockwise: Raghu Appasani, Md; Havovi Hyderbadwalla; Manoj Chandran; Dr Anjali Chhabria; Pragya Lodha 


The speakers are an interesting mix of people from the Entertainment, Communications, Medical, and Mindfulness spaces.


Left to right Clockwise: Nina Kler; Raghu Appasani, Md; Priyanka Varma; Alesandra Torresani; Gopi Krishnaswamy; Sunaina Rekhi


Joining them have been Famous Hollywood Big Bang Theory actress Alessandra Torresani, TV personality, actor and video blogger Shira Lazar, Global Wellness Icon Sunaina Rekhi along with other important names from the mental health space who will be talking on how to change the portrayal of mental health in media, the various treatment modalities and how to establish your own mental health hygiene through self-care. 


This happened right at the heels of Alessandra becoming an Ambassador at the MINDS Foundation and Nina becoming a board member.


On the occasion of the festival Alessandra shared that, “Being an ambassador of The MINDS Foundation has already been so powerful. The message of mental health awareness is so strong with MINDS and aligns perfectly with my personal message of creating a stigma free world with my platform, EmotionAL Support.” Alessandra runs a podcast EmotionAL Support, making the conversation around mental health accessible to all. Hence, being part of the celebration no matter from where in the world came organically to her.


Nina Kler has been a volunteer for DaanUtsav since 8 years and has had a passion for mental health since school as she dealt with anxiety herself. Over the years she went on to study psychology and journalism amongst other subjects in an attempt to make a difference.


She was responsible for setting up the entire Wellbeing platform at BW Businessworld where she was the Editorial lead and has recently launched her own platform Pursuit of Balance


Nina says, “I have benefitted tremendously from engaging with the volunteers over the years and learning about giving. Seeing the inherent goodness of people come to the forefront during the festival has really helped me fortify my own mental health journey and faith in people. This year I am very excited to partner with Raghu, to be having these meaningful conversations and offering free mental wellness checks specially during these trying times.”


For Dr. Raghu Appasani this week of giving leads up to the launch of the movie Smile Simi on World Mental Health Day October 10th. The film is a short film exploring a families mental health journey, a collaboration of the foundation with Malathi Rai, directed by Kabir Thapar Productions with title song sung by legend Sonu Nigam. Additionally, MINDS will be releasing a conversation on Finding Mental Health in Community in partnership with world-renowned musician, Lauv, his foundation – The Blue Boy Foundation, and Microsoft on World Mental Health Day. Panelists include KPOP start Kim Byeongkwan from A.C.E., Soul Pop-singer-songwriter Paige Space from New Zealand, and MINDS Ambassador and singer-songwriter artist Maalavika Manoj from India.


For Dr. Appasani, mental health is his identity, “I started working in the field of neuroscience, consciousness science, and psychiatry when I was 12 years old. Researching how memory is formed, discovering pathways for addiction and depression, and diving into the human experience to combat human suffering. He founded The MINDS Foundation over 10 years ago when he was 20 years old with the vision of creating a world in which anyone, anywhere can access the mental health resources they deserve whilst being supported by a community expressing empathy, compassion, and love.”


This DaanUtsav apart from the celebrating the festival of giving, Project Mumbai has launched a unique community sharing and coping initiative on mental health called Emotional Express.


Founder Project Mumbai Shishir Joshi shared their plans for the festival this year, “Starting October 2 and culminating on Mental health day that is October 10 Project Mumbai’s  Emotion Express – is a step towards creating a storehouse of coping resources created by the community for the community, and curated by mental health professionals.


The initiative urges people to come together to share our coping mechanisms with each other


He shared that, “The response has been fantastic with young and old sharing songs which lifted their mood when they were low, poems which encouraged them when spirits were down and prayers which got families together.


PROJECT Mumbai will then compile and share a comprehensive tool book based on all your resources on the 10th of October, which is World Mental Health Day


A number of NGOs like Pravah and MASH Projects Foundation are doing work in helping build leadership and volunteering skills.


DaanUtsav is Indias biggest festival of giving that happens every year from the 2-8 october, where people from all walks of life do random acts of kindness to experience the joy of giving.


This festival began with a group of volunteers in 2008. The bandwagon of volunteers has increased exponentially by the year.


Like mother’s day, father’s day, Eid and Diwali this festival is owned by no one.


Nina Kler is a well-being crusader and mental health advocate, who in her previous avatar was responsible for setting up the Well-being platform at BW Businessworld.


Her own journey with mental health has led her endeavours to make a difference in the well-being space.


Recently she has become a board member at the Minds Foundaton.


Dr. Raghu Appasani is the Founder and CEO of the Minds Foundation and is doing some very impactful work in both rural and urban spaces, though he is based in LA in the US. 


The Foundation has recently appointed Big Bang Theory fame actress, Alessandra Torresani as an ambassador who is also a part of the DaanUtsav event this year.


Shishir Joshi is the Founder of Project Mumbai and is well known for how he brings scale to all that he does. 

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