Dr. Rashi Agarwal is a Psychiatrist and a Mental Health Expert who educates people on the importance of mental health through social media. She obtained a degree in psychiatry at Shri Guru Ram Rai Institute of Medical and Health Science in Dehradun, Uttarakhand.
Dr. Rashi Agarwal wanted to help people and throw light on an invisible topic like mental health. Through her profession, she realized that she has been able to bring about a positive change in people’s lives. She regularly contributes to esteemed publications, including many international
publications such as the Asian Journal of Psychiatry and Brain Stimulation.
Dr. Rashi Agarwal has also been invited as a speaker at multiple online and offline school and college platforms to discuss mental health issues. In her conversation with Icy Tales, Dr. Rashi Agarwal spoke about her journey in choosing psychiatry, the importance of mental health and her plans.
Q) You are from a family of doctors. Was becoming a doctor your first choice, or was it because your family was into it?
Dr. Rashi Agarwal: In society, there is this feeling that if you come from a family of doctors, this is how it usually goes. So I am speaking for myself now that there was no pressure on me to choose medicine; it came naturally because my family allowed me to practice any profession I wanted to.
It took it all because there was no specific reason not to choose medicine, everyone was happy with my choice, and there was never a time when they told me I should not do this or pursue something else.
Q) Why did you choose to specialize in psychiatry?
Dr. Rashi Agarwal: If you ask any medical professional this question, they would say that psychiatry wasn’t their first choice. But that was not the case with me; I was very keen to choose this field, and it was not a bad decision.
There are honestly so many pros and cons, so I gradually narrowed it down so that I wanted to do something different. Secondly, I want to do a medicinal rather than a surgical one. And then I kept on narrowing it down, and then I decided that Psychiatry is a good choice and this is something that I want to do. It gradually fell into place, and I have just come to love this immensely. I say daily that I live and breathe psychiatry.
Q) What is the importance of mental health in today’s world?
Dr. Rashi Agarwal: First and foremost, I would say that just because something is not visible on the outside, it does not mean it does not require any intervention. Rather, it is not that invisible just because a person does not express it that much. This is the main stigma we are fighting over because it is a hidden issue.
This is invisible, but the number of psychiatric disorders is very much on the face. Also, you can figure out that something is going wrong, but not as prominently as physical illnesses. So yes, it needs more attention, and more must be done toward it.
That needs a lot of mention because, as I said, the stigma we’re trying to break is not easy. People are not able to get the right help. There is treatment, management and cure for so many things, but until the person comes to you, you cannot go inside people’s homes and force them to get better, right?
And the entire world is working on normalizing it because it’s important. It’s very difficult to break it from the starting point. And as they say, prevention is obviously better than cure, so the earlier we get help, the better and easier to manage.
Q) Why do you think people get into negative thoughts, and what is the solution?
Dr. Rashi Agarwal: It all starts ranging from personality. Every one of us is a unique thing depending on how our characters. So we all are very different people, and even the twins do not behave similarly. My genetic makeup, like what I have inherited from my parents, and grandparents, what environment I have been living in, and so many factors come into place to make you who you are today.
Now, depending on all of these factors, experiences that you’ve had, and depending on whatever things you are going to do on a day-to-day basis in life, influence your thinking and behaviour. Generally, if a person has a more troubled past or has had negative childhood experiences, they are more drawn towards negativity and negative thoughts.
It is not a big deal to have negative thoughts; we all get such ideas daily, as it is very common. The problem arises in indulging in negative thoughts to the point that it affects your day-to-day living, relationships, hope for the future or the capacity with which you look and how you show your productivity.
So it’s okay to have negative thoughts; we all have them. It’s not like we are trying to eliminate negative reviews, but one should know where all this stands.
Q) You have the vision to reach rural areas and spread awareness by organizing free camps. How do you plan on achieving this, and what are your other plans?
Dr. Rashi Agarwal: The more I talk to people, the more I realize about the world around me. I’ve said this in so many places that I love walking into areas, although it may sound very weird. This simplicity, the ease of work and the joy of seeing patients get better is a new feeling; I don’t find it elsewhere.
I have been trying to do these camps, which I have now stopped due to mental health reasons. Every Sunday, I used to have free centers in rural areas that used to have only Rs. 5 for registration, most of which were just free camps.
Most were just students who would finish school and college and come for the camp. I have seen how quickly people get better. It is like we’re catching things before they become big. And because the centers are free, more people are drawn towards them. Even if I see 150 people in one camp, it’s easy to filter who will need longer treatment and who will get better soon.
At least this way, we are spreading the message that these situations are manageable and can be prevented. I am planning to structure it out so that it is feasible with my other lifestyle, so now I have designed in some way that every month or two months, we have awareness camps where we also teach.
I had this one seminar where I taught about the illness of OCD and how we can manage it; we also did group therapy sessions. When we spoke about OCD and how people are taking treatment, one thing that motivated me to do that was that people who are going through any mental health issue feel that they are the only ones going through this; because of the stigma, people don’t share. So I just had this for OCD.
So when there are so many people sitting in a meeting, when I see females talking to each other about their issues, I noticed that a lot of their apprehension was taken away at that point when they realized after that session, a lot of them said that they were relieved that they were not the only one who’s going through this.
But somewhere, we’re trying to have an automated system where we plan to do the camp and the awareness program at least once a month. If anybody wants to learn, they can just come here and get what they want. At least this way, they can realize that they may have some of these symptoms and get themselves treated. Many families often ask people to shun themselves if they are facing such issues, but I want to normalize this.
Dr. Rashi Agarwal aims to lead an organization with the help of eminent therapists and counsellors where she would be able to reach rural areas and educate them about mental wellness.
Check out the whole conversation with Dr. Rashi Agarwal on our YouTube Channel.