Doc Of Happiness – Starting A Dialogue About Mental Health Through Illustrations

An art director turned teacher, Sukriti Vadheri Kohli is blazing trails of encouragement through her empowering illustrations about mental health on “Doc Of Happiness”

 

A few days back, a 14-year-old jumped off the 9th floor of her building and committed suicide. This incident hit close home for me since this happened in my vicinity. Mental Health is real and it’s time that people start taking it seriously.

In a country where the academic pressure on children is high, the competition is severe and people have closed themselves off from emoting their feelings – it’s difficult to comprehend what a person is going through. Anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD is used casually in situations by people, and therapy is still considered to be a taboo. In such a situation, all that one can hope for is to start a dialogue about mental health without trivializing it – telling the survivors that there’s hope and that they’re not alone and showing them the right way – of medication and therapy.

Media is a very important medium to spread awareness and increase sensitivity about mental health. @DocOfHappiness – an Instagram handle started by Sukriti Vadhera Kohli is doing just that and in the best possible way!

Sukriti who had worked as an advertising professional as an art director for a number of years and then shifted into teaching started this initiative because she herself had been through similar challenges as a young teenager. “Thankfully, because of the support of my family, friends and my faith in Nichiren Buddhism, I coped with it. However, when I started teaching in a college and started interacting with young people, I realized that the pain that they are going through is real. People usually consider college days to be the “best days of one’s life.”  That may or may not be true for everyone.”

She wanted to empower the young people of the country and wanted to contribute into making this society a more empathetic and compassionate place for the youth. “It took me almost three years to zero down on the idea of DocOfHappiness. I’d ponder about workshops, exhibitions etc, but it was finally in December 2017 that I realized that the best way to reach out to the youth was through social media. ” And hence, on January 2nd 2018, DocOfHappiness was born.

Of course, many people told her she wasn’t capable of empowering or counselling people because she didn’t have the right qualifications, but she wasn’t deterred. “I don’t think that you necessarily need a psychology background to spread hope and happiness. All that you need is compassion.”

DocOfHappiness posts an illustration almost every day. She says that she researches a lot before deciding on an illustration. “I am an artist and I wanted my art to really speak to people. The toughest part of the entire process is the core thought – what do I want to say, and how do I say it in the best possible way?”

She makes it a point that her illustrations, even though directed at the youth, is relevant to others. “Whenever I make an illustration, I usually take opinions about it from my son’s nanny. She’s someone who doesn’t understand English but is very candid about her opinions. People are often surprised at why she’s my critic. But I feel that, if she can understand the essence of the art, anyone can. I don’t want to make anything idiot-proof.”

However, for Sukriti, it’s not just the illustrations that start a conversation but all the dialogues that she holds on Instagram stories. You’ll often find her holding polls on topics that speak directly to you. One of the very important ones that I remember was “Tell me the most amazing thing about you.”

In a digital world which is filled with hatred and anger, Sukriti is trying to bring about a change in thoughts. She beautifully makes people believe in that power that THEY themselves hold in the course of their life. “A lot of people message me on the page, talking about their problems and the hardships that they’re undergoing. I just try to listen and help them out. The fact that people know that there’s no judgment on the other side of the account makes them open up to a stranger who is willing to listen to you.”

Sukriti says that a lot of people want to collaborate with her – qualified doctors included, who want her to publish this on different platforms. “I do have a lot of ideas. It’s a forum that can be taken anywhere. So the core plan would be to encourage people, and whatever platform gets that to happen, I’ll happily be on board.” She says, on an ending note.

The page, which completes 6 months today has over 3,000 followers on Instagram and each of the illustrations is empowering in its own way. We hope that her work keeps encouraging others and opens up the path for many more artists to speak up about mental health!

You can follow her here: @DocOfHappiness