Thursday, 13 September 2018


Mental Health is a psychological state of an individual who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment or predominantly happens to be an absence of mental illness. According to World Health Organization (WHO), mental health includes subjective well being, perceived self efficacy, autonomy, competence, inter-generational dependence and self actualization of one’s intellect and emotional potential, among others.

It is often seen that children and teenagers suffer a lot from poor mental heath due to various reasons. With today’s time and age the problems are increasing rapidly and as stated by World Health Organisation ‘Worldwide 10-20 % of children and adolescents experience mental disorders’. Some of the common causes of mental health problems in children and teenagers are:

·         Having parents who are divorced or separated.

·         Having a Long-Term physical illness.

·         Experiencing the death of a close one.

·         Sibling rivalry.

·         Bullying.

·         Separation anxiety when small children are separated from their caregivers due to various reasons like; divorce, death or illness or even when introduced to a new environment like play school.

·         Generation gap with parents.

·         Toxic stress caused by irrelevant expectations of overly good performances.

·         Physical assault like punishment or domestic violence

·         Poor Nutrition or malnutrition.

·         Genetic vulnerability.

·         Hormonal changes.

·         Relationship breakdown.

·         Social isolation

·         Insomnia

·         Hypersomnia

·         Traumatic experience such as living in a war zone or facing a dreadful accident can increase the risk of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

·         Some personality traits such as Low Self-esteem or Perfectionism can increase the risk of depression and anxiety.

How can we recognise that  a child or a teenager is suffering from poor mental health

         Ø      DEPRESSION

Depression is generally characterized by persistent low moods and loss of interest in activities causing impairment in daily lives. Depressed individuals do not find pleasure in any activities and they tend to suffer in the process, get detached from their friends and family and become reclusive. Depression has been affecting more children today than in the last few decades. Teenagers and adolescents are more likely to be the target of this mental illness.


Self Harm is a very common problem among young people. Some people get reinforced as it helps them to manage intense emotional pain if they harm themselves, through cutting or burning. For example, having a bad relationship with their partners or family issues can be the risk factors in enhancing the individual to take such step. Young children today can also face the problem of harming others, being aggressive or irresponsible and violating the societal rules, spitting or making bad comments on others which are psychological termed as the symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder or Conduct Disorder. Such children take certain steps as it helps them to control or deal with their inner conflicts that they happen to be suppressed for a long period and then expressing it in a violent way.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder can cause children and teenagers to become extremely worried, panic or be nervous when it comes to dealing with a particular stressful situation. Children may be a victim of Separation Anxiety when they are separated from their close ones. Such anxiety may affect them in their developmental stages. They tend to remain aloof, or may be emotionally blunt, or they may loss interest in activities or making friends or even communicating with people.

A healthy upbringing during the early childhood years lead a healthy life   

 The early childhood years are very important in shaping the character, personality and overall development of a child. During these years, if a child undergoes stress, anxiety or depression due to various factors at home or outside, then there is a huge negative impact on the child’s mind. In order to grow up to be a well-rounded individual, it is very important that children should be exposed to a positive environment. Even if they are born with some kind of minor disability or disorder,yet  have a supportive family or surroundings, they would be able to cope with such disorders easily. On the other hand, if a child, who is normal, is exposed to a large amount of toxic stress or subject to bullying, body-shaming or the likes, the child may get into depression, which may lead to self-harm etc. An excessive amount of stress or anxiety can contribute to physical problems like binge eating and puking, low energy levels, insomnia, low concentration, irritation, violent behavior, poor health leading to poor growth, reclusive behaviour. 

 As an Early Childhood Educationist, I believe that every child should be placed in an environment which is conducive to building up of self confidence, self esteem, positive feeling towards others, empathy The development of emotional intelligence in children is very important for enabling them to cope up with stress or stressful situations, managing emotions, control of anger; etc., which are very common for them when they grow from one stage to the other. If a child is emotionally intelligent, he or she will be able to transient from one stage to the other easily, as they are more flexible and will look for the positives, even  in the negative life situations.

It is, therefore, important for the children and teenagers to have strong relationships with their family and friends and they should be encouraged to share their inner conflicts so that the nature and the cause can be diagnosed and treated effectively.

Stake Holders: which includes parents, educators, relatives etc have a huge role to play in the lives of these little children who look at them for support, comfort and guidance. They should create a sense of belongingness, empathy, develop their potential and ensure a positive and safe environment.  Mistakes and defeats should be expected and accepted. Additionally, encouraging words from adults is also important for helping children develop self confidence, high self esteem, and a healthy emotional outlook on life. Therefore, good mental health will allow the children to think clearly, develop socially and learn new skills and grow up to be a healthy individual.

Vasavi Acharya Bora

 Early Childhood Educationist, Edupreneur, M.D. Inner I Foundation Pvt. Ltd. Faculty TISS Guwahati, Director DNA Foundation for Children and Women Welfare, Author, Awardee.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Aleph: We don't lose anything,completely

9:32 pm (one evening)
The Yahoo messenger alert beeped...announcing the arrival of another message. It's a holiday tomorrow, I will have ample time, so I didn't check it out right away. After some updates in my Facebook page I turned off the Wi-Fi and finally called it a day.

7am (next morning)
Woke up to a not so sunny day. Such mornings gives me a lot of blues, more so if it a no work day. Pulling myself out of bed, I got involved with the chores I love, tending my flower pots and looking for the birds and bees...with a warm cup of tea in my hand.
After breakfast I got back to my phone and on turning on the Wi-Fi, the messenger alert beeped again to remind me of the unseen message.
I opened the message and read "Your father's name was Bupai (an Assamese word for boy), right? Deben Acharya. I was prompt in replying "yes". And then a reply to my reply came, "I will call you. Please share your number. I want to talk to you". I shared my number and waited for the call.

My father:
I lost him at the age of 4 years plus some months, and all that remains of him in my memory is his face and his upper torso. He was wearing a white shirt with black polka dots and looked a little absorbed in thoughts. Besides that, everything I know about him is what I have heard from my mother, sisters, family members, the village folks of Baligoan (in Jorhat),his friends, family friends, his fans and well wishers....and people I meet randomly, who connects to me, only because I am his daughter. He has been my inspiration and the spirit behind my unending motivation to go on, whatever may be the circumstances.
And I am always yearning to know more about him from any source, it's like my sunshine...something that gives me renewed momentum.

The Phone Rings...and I see an unknown number and receive the call.
I hear the soft voice of  lady, saying, "I really wanted to connect to you. You are the daughter of Debendra Nath Acharya of whom I have such fond memories. She introduces herself and recalled how she met my father in Shillong (Meghalaya), when she was a little girl. When I asked the year and how he happened to visit their place, she said she did not know, as she was too young. She only remembered that he use to take her in his lap and sway her to and fro to the verse "Ai Giri Nandini, Nandita Medini, Vishwa Vinodini, Nanda Sute."(the Mahisasura Mardini Strotam).This came as a surprise to me as I have been listening to this Strotam from many years, and is one of my favourites.
Her visual memory of him wearing a white Kurta Pajama that is still vivid in her mind and his face, which she said resembles mine. This memory of my father is so much imprinted in her mind that she recalled it as her most unforgettable moments.
Later she heard that he had gone for his studied to Imperial College London. She also heard about his marriage to my mother, our stay in Duliajan and about his sudden demise.
While we talked, we understood that the Shillong connection happened through our families that resided in the same village, Baligoan in Jorhat, Assam and were neighbours. Probably he had visited their family who resided in Shillong at that time.

The present:
We talked about our families, work, and the daily bits, and hung up, with a promise to catch up soon.

*It is often said, everything that goes away, comes back in some other form...
Nothing finishes forever, an invisible thread binds it the universal soul.
At times this thread is visible, at times, it is not, but it never ceases to exist.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Looking beyond our 'Gender'

Development in terms of inventions, technological advances et al. is a boon for women as it has made the lives of most women easier to navigate, more enriching and less strenuous.
If we evaluate the social bindings that tie us up (as females), we find that it is actually decided by our societal, cultural and psychological framework, which in turn, is determined by our biological characteristics. Stereotypes are, thus attached to our existences and our role as an individual is defined by these.
In prehistoric times men and women were hunters and nomads, both moving at the same pace, hand in hand...
With the gradual transition of lifestyle, from the nomadic to permanent settlements; that started with the inception of farming and cattle rearing, there was a change of prospects for the women too. They were expected to stay back and look after the farms and cattle while the men ventured out to procure the other essentials to meet a decent livelihood. The maternity and child rearing phenomenon (which is a biological function distinct from our male counterparts) further sketched their role as homemakers who were restricted to the boundaries set for them. With the passage of time females were left with physically weaker genes, socially, emotionally and economically dependent on the males.
Homo sapiens without classification of sexes (and setting aside the expected gender roles) are polygamous in nature. The consequences of sexual adventures leave its mark only on a woman, as she is the one who conceives and undergoes the process of childbirth. This makes her further vulnerable and this biological distinction started to nail down the appropriate behaviour and attitudes, roles and activities for them, and how they should relate to other people. This learned behaviour is what makes up Gender Identity and determines gender roles and responsibilities.

All through the ages the role of a woman was defined by the men they were with and the societal norms that ruled their clan. The capacity of women to create life, which is a near divine power, became a source of shame and exploitation. Eventually the status of women was reduced to such levels that they were treated as objects to pleasure men, goods to settle dues, wives to take care of the entire family and stay home bound. Their existence was only to gratify the need to of the society in diverse ways. And the worst part of this was that women too started to believe in it. They started to stay in self styled cages, like the birds that knew that the cage door was open; there were ways of escape and soar high in the sky, yet sat inside, in the comfort zones.
Even in those times there were the rebellious few, but they had to face the fury of the chauvinistic oppressors, who were not open to the idea of women sharing an equal platform, with the men folk.
But all this has changed over time; very slowly, yet steadily. There has been a major shift in the way women perceive themselves today. The advancement of science and technology has enabled women to break down the age-old shackles that bound them from time immemorial. There is no more, the fear of the threats that women were subject to, in the past. The web has increased connectivity, reach, and broadened horizon for millions of our kind. Women live a freer life and there is a growth of independence both in economic and emotional areas.
Life has become more transparent, there are answers to the questions that were previously never addressed; there is a feeling of sisterhood, support from one another, global connection, a bigger stage to explore and much more. Times are changing. There is a paradigm shift towards empowering women in the true sense of the term. 
Today our lives look more promising and there is hope in the horizon. One half of the women population is building them up and empowering themselves. They will take their light into the dark dungeons of oppression...and light up the lives of the rest.

That is the power We hold within, the power that was taken away from us, the power We have Rediscovered.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Editorial_Empower Times 2016-17/FICCI FLO


“Every journey that starts has to end....

What is determining the quality of this journey: is all the milestones we create, the lives we touch positively, the contributions we make, the hands we hold and the joy we spread, while we embark on it and move ahead”.

I am only a year old in FLO, and the year has been a rollercoaster ride for me, extremely exciting, mind-bending and very enlightening.

Ms. Indrani Deb our Chairperson had been very kind to entrust upon me this Herculean job (I love challenges!!!) of editing the Annual Flo Magazine for the term 2016-17. When I sat down with my work of compilation and chronologically arranging the events, workshops, fund raisers, CSR activities, to name a few;  that were held during the year, I was thrilled to see the quantum of work taken up by FLO to empower women from all sections of the society.

Being a feminist to the core, I believe that an empowered woman is one who is independent not only financially but also emotionally.  It is most important for a woman to understand her essence and her worth and move ahead, breaking down the barriers that are put up by society, in diverse ways. Gender discrimination has been a part of our social set up since time immemorial and it exists in both overt and covert forms of bias and this has led to a gigantic gap in the development and progress of a huge section (women) of the society, which actually outnumbers men.

With the right dose of education, skill development trainings and programmes, health and hygiene awareness, self defence training, pro-women policy building, counselling, creating awareness about  women rights and privileges  et all; these women can become positive contributors to the society they live in and to the nation at large. Those who are fortunate enough to create a niche for themselves should encourage their less fortunate equivalents to take a step towards bridging the distance between home and workplace. Every daughter born into a family should be taught to understand her worth, develop positive self esteem and given equal opportunity for growth with her male counterpart, thus tearing the stereotyped roles attached to her existence.

Organisations that work towards women welfare, should join hands and build a coherent support system (encompassing all areas) to strengthen and empower them, to enable a woman  to live a life of respect and dignity .I am real happy to be a part of FLO that endeavours to make a concrete difference.

 “I raise my voice-not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard...we cannot succeed when half of us are held back”-Malala

Signing off with a note of positivity and hope...

Vasavi Acharya

Tuesday, 4 April 2017


What is the THIRD EYE?
It's the awakening of the consciousness, the awareness of the internal and the discerning of the external. I had once met a person who said that his Third Eye had opened and that he could perceive the world with full awareness. He could also see creatures from different planes or dimensions (it sounded scary). It enables him to have a clear insight into one's life and beyond. It was like seeing everything through the naked eye without any rose tinted shades. Such naked revelations are very difficult and hard to accept, at most times.
I have a strange fascination for Lord Shiva since my childhood days. The mysticism attached to his persona (I accept him more as human, then a God) draws me more towards Him.
In the middle Himalayan ranges, Macleodganj is a small little town that is home to many tourists and has been my abode for the past two days. As I sit in one of the wonderful home-stays, nestled in the heart of towering ranges, the songs of wild birds resonating from all around, I think of Shiva and my Third Eye. I feel as if  my inner i or my soul eye has awakened and is trying to soak in the universal energy that is all encompassing.The Universe which is vibrant with energy can be sensed more in such wilderness ...
For me opening of the all seeing Third Eye, is the stimulation of our senses to perceive and draw the universal energy inward. When the Third Eye opens, our Minds opens -it starts receiving the vibrations that is all around us and our awareness to the external is heightened.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Night Lights

A silent night, the strange sounds of nocturnal creatures, an all engulfing darkness. Far far away I see some lights twinkling, from houses built in the heart of the mountain ranges...
The steady droll of insects,  flickering lights, silhouette of the mountains, a deafening silence... and me.

My eyes move up to the sky and I see a captivating sight. Scores of stars are staring down at me. The sky looks like it is lit up by innumerable glitters and is spread like a mat above or as if lanterns are hanging from nowhere. I spot the North Star, the Jupiter, Mars and a few constellations in the of midst cluster of stars. I feel like I have lost myself in the heavenly light.

And when I look upon the lights on earth, it seems like the stars have touched the mountains below, embracing them in the silent stillness of the night.  And I stand still, soaking in the harmony and beauty of this wonderful sight...😊
Khajjiar,Himachal Pradesh

Monday, 20 March 2017


On a beautiful sunny morning, it is so unfortunate to read news about upsurge of violence, cut throat political activities, riots, disturbing speeches on religious grounds, all over the word. 
Can we people, rise above 'Religion' and think about self improvement and pledge to become Global Citizens (humans with no divide)?
Else the World will be drenched in a huge pool of blood and our future generations will have nothing but baseless wars to fight. 
I wonder if any religion, belief in one's God, (a very personal thing) should be the determining factor of one's relationships, behaviour and actions?
 A soul has no divide... Yet once it takes human form it becomes so obsessed with the religion it is born in, imposed by the social divides. I read Rabindra Nath Tagore's GORA, when I was in school, and understood the futility of such fanatical beliefs.

I would like to sign off, with this food for thought on this beautiful morning.