Interview with.Ms. Mansi Dholakia | Founder & CEO | Global Mental Health Association
We always strive to bring meaningful and powerful stories from India and around the world to empower and motivate our growing community. As part of this endeavour, we invited Ms. Mansi Dholakia for an exclusive interview with us. Let’s learn more about her incredible journey, her background and her advice for our growing community.
Tell us little bit about yourself and GMHA.
I am Mansi Dholakia the CEO and Founder of GMHA. It’s Global Mental Health Association established in the USA. It works towards raising mental health awareness around the world. Currently we have our presence in five countries and are expanding.
In India especially our work lies in introducing Emotional Intelligence as a core module in schools and universities across the country. I am a pharmacologist, an Emotional Intelligence trainer as well as an entrepreneur. I am also the Senior advisor on board for
Mental Health Change UK and EQ4Peace USA. I am on the Board of Trustees at World Peace Tracts UK as well. I have spent 15 years in United Kingdom, after which I moved to
India to establish GMHA here and to work for youth empowerment. So far this year, we have addressed about 5000 students from various universities in last 3 months. A lot more work to do, but we have definitely begun. I am also a United Nations speaker.
How did the idea for start-up come about?
I have spent maximum time in the United Kingdom and I have personally suffered from
anxiety and depression for a long time in my life. So I understand the frustration, the helpless feeling that you get when you don’t know how to overcome it. That led me to this whole idea of GMHA. A single stop platform where you can reach out for any kind of mental health related help. I envision a future where we can run a 24*7 mental health helpline which is manned by Psychologists and people can get instant help. Currently India has no such 24*7 helpline system and it is much required. Our team of
Psychologists are all qualified professionals who train students in emotional intelligence.
I worked hard for 2 years on developing all the content for the Workshops, did a lot of research surrounding emotional intelligence and then brought this into the market. I think entrepreneurship is all about knowing your why and understanding the need of the community.
What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?
I wanted to bring a change in the society mindset. There is so much stigma surrounding mental wellness in our society even today. People don’t understand the difference between a person being mentally unhealthy and somebody who is mad. It’s quite sad to see that in a progressive country like India, mental well-being is still in its very nascent stages. I think nobody is born with an entrepreneurial spirit, but then life happens and people go through things and circumstances which changes their vision and mindset. That change is the beginning of a revolution and some people like me have the courage to actually work damn hard to turn it into a reality.
How did you come up with a name for your business or start up?
GMHA is an acronym for Global Mental Health Association. The name is very important as it signifies what we stand for. Global was always in my mind, as I think mental health is such a subject which truly requires Global attention. So to include the word Global into the name was very important. We are on a global mission to serve humanity. I think that whenever you to start an entrepreneurship journey, it starts with yourself and then with the name of your organisation. So all I can say is choose wisely.
What does GMHA offer ?
GMHA offers emotional intelligence modules/ workshops for incorporating into the university curriculum systems across the country. We want to work with the UN SDGS to build an inclusive society and for that it’s important to raise an emotionally intelligentcommunity.
We also offer corporate programs for MNCs and work towards building empathetic leadership skills. Our corporate programs are popular due to the customised approach that we present to our clients. Communication skills, team building and leadership are
the key focus areas we work upon. It leads to increasing employee performance and addresses their issues as well.
Our Psychologists are all trained professionals who know how to provide best suitable support.
How many hours a day do you work on an average and can you describe what yourtypical day looks like?
I work almost 20 hours a day. I know it’s too long and not advisable at all. Being a
mental health practitioner, I get told off by my colleagues too to look after myself more. But to be honest with any startup, the more hours you put in initially hopefully the less you will have to put in later. Better now than later that’s what I believe. My typical day currently is full of zoom meetings/interviews/podcasts/university sessions/ international webinars from around the world. It is actually more tiring than having to run a practical
office. This work from home has turned our lives upside down with no time for personal space. It is hard. But I am a workaholic so I am not complaining. I enjoy my work. I love meeting new people and I love talking to everyone from different parts of the world.
The pandemic has given a blessing in terms of bringing this world lot closer.
With so much going on, how do you start your day to keep your passion alive?
I love reading books and listening to music. I love writing poetry. Sometimes in the darkest of nights if I am up, I just start scribbling something down on pen and paper.Passion doesn’t need a time out. It is inborn in you. You live it every moment. I also love long bike rides in nature. I do steal the time out for myself as well. Since last few years I make sure to take short breaks in between – like taking 3 days off after a couple months of tight schedules.
So in those 3 days then, I am completely off social media and off the grid. I spend my time with my friends and family in the company of Nature and regain my energy. Sometimes even when I have had quite a few back to back long days I do make sure to take a few hours out and go spend some time in the lap of nature. That is my escape.
You have spent so much time recently for serving so many humanitarian causes. What drives you to do that ?
It has been my passion to help people from when I was like 5years old. I remember my mum telling a story when I saw a hungry child outside asking for food, I started crying on the road that no one is feeding her. My mother had to actually buy her some food and only after she ate, I stopped crying and said ok now I ll eat too. I am still the same little girl even today.
GMHA runs a lot of non profit initiatives and currently during the Pandemic we have fed almost 6000 people in a month. I have myself been outside and fed people . Our videos and pictures are all circulating around in social media. It is not to win accolades but genuinely I have always contributed or done my bit for charity. Humanity is my religion and I practice that. We opened an Instagram page which now has almost 500 followers in just 3 weeks since we started helping people find a bed or oxygen or medicines. Our volunteers worked relentlessly to verify information and inform the right person about it. We used to get 100 help requests daily.
We came up with Humanitarian awards and that will be an annual thing starting this year. We wish to acknowledge the people for what they are doing and the ones selflessly serving the society deserve an applause. They are the true heroes according to me.
What is your favourite quote and why ?
My favourite quote is “Be the change you want to see in the world” by Mahatma Gandhi. I truly believe that preaching does not achieve anything. Your actions say it all.
So ACT. Don’t just talk. Currently during the pandemic crisis, I came across so many people all over social media, criticizing the government, criticizing the good work of the social workers, criticizing so many things that were happening around , but not participating at all in bringing any kind of a change. I am a woman of few words and I believe more in actions.
The change begins with you. If you don’t act according to what you think or what you preach, you lose your authenticity. And that would be the biggest insult to yourself. So I truly believe in bringing about a change through my actions. I am a revolutionary at heart.
What advice would you give to students or professionals who want to have a successful career?
I would say follow your heart. Unless your heart is not completely on your side, your passion towards your goals will always remain unfulfilled. Your motivation comes from the passion that fuels inside your heart. Once you have your passion ignited then follow it up with the perseverance required to take it further. And the final element towards success is patience. So if you ask me what is my success mantra, I would say that is: Passion, Perseverance and Patience. Believe in a world where people want results immediately. Everybody wants to be an overnight millionaire.
But unfortunately not all of us are born with that kind of luck. So we have to work hard towards achieving our goals. Each individuals journey will be a defining one and full of their own passion and purpose. It is very important to establish your why before beginning any kind of startup.
Your why’s will be your guiding path even when you sometimes lose your way. Ultimately your faith and belief in yourself will take you all the way. So never lose hope.
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