My name is Insiya, and I’m a Project Research Assistant on this project.
I am fortunate that very early on I found the perfect mentor to help me build my career, someone who was a walking and talking ambassador for the field of mental health (she was especially inspiring for a teenager who thought counseling is a job for the old and boring). Dr. Diana Monteiro not only inspired me and taught me psychology, but she also helped me develop and fortify my love for the subject.
At 20, in my final year of graduation, I was able to decide what people take years to figure out – a career path, one that I have never regretted for a second.
Understanding human behavior, helping people to figure out their lives, being non judgmental, open and objective were concepts I idealized, but in a world filled with racism, gender bias and stereotypes, this seemed very difficult. But my gut told me, there was a way, and training under Diana was the answer.
In Indian culture, a lot of importance is imparted to the teacher. People back in the day would live with their teacher to imbibe their ideals and philosophies. Such closeness and dedication is a rarity in today’s world, but I was fortunate to have spend a good two and a half years learning and training to be half as awesome as Diana. I felt this part of my life was set, and my aspirations to excel in the field knew no limits.
As I relocated from India to UAE, (I got married and my husband lives there!!), I realized that the UAE has a wide network of mental health professionals, and I was excited to explore my options there. I currently work with a school as a high school counselor, and, like always, I thoroughly enjoy the work I do.
There were a few things that kept running through my mind as I continued to work: the need for more mental health awareness, that there are more people requiring these services than professionals in the field, and how accessible these services were to people who needed it. The rates of suicide have been on a rise globally and yet the movement for change needs more support. I was doing my job but know I wanted more; then came this opportunity that Diana and Nitya together made possible for all of us HAPians!!
Since Diana first emailed me about it, I was excited to be a part of the project. I felt this was a new arena to explore and getting trained to do it was something I would definitely not want to miss. With every field using technology to boost its relevance, the concept of E- coaching seemed so inviting. The fact that this was coming from Stanford made it even more clear that this was gong to be a huge learning opportunity.
As we have undergone training, I have learned that the Lantern program has been tailored to meet the needs of the students and is backed with research, which means we have an opportunity to provide something truly valuable to these students.
Being involved in discussions with Dr. Barr and others on the team has been really helpful and quite enjoyable. The in-house training that Nitya led really gave it more structure and helped all of it come together. Nitya has been coordinating and explaining the project so well and making sure all of us feel comfortable with everything that she possibly can offer. I thank her for working with us and making this such a memorable experience.
I feel India is a land of opportunity. Given the clear needs of the student community that lives in this country, this project seems like a meaningful opportunity to expose this generation to a more accessible, more private, semi-automated mental health program that might help students reduce anxiety. This would help them experience and hopefully value the importance of mental health care and build awareness.
I definitely want to be a part of such a dream project to help the field grow and I’ll do my best to encourage and motivate others.
I am thrilled to be on board and can’t wait to see how the project progresses!