Have a look around, and you will find yourself stuck in between unorganised humans. Though humans try and tend to organise everything around themselves, most people fail to organise their thoughts. This is majorly because of their negligence towards mental health.
The COVID-19 pandemic restricted everyone to their houses. Although the pandemic has adversely affected everyone, it also made everyone realise the importance of mental health and how it can change everything around them. Educating young minds about mental health has become the need of the hour for leading a happy life.
In our quest to find such educators who are effectively changing people’s lives and making a difference in society, we came across Dr. Smita Ghosh, the founder of Mi Merak. She is a Happiness Life Coach and believes that positive psychology can change the perception of youngsters.
Here are some of the highlights from her interview with The Knowledge Review:
Please tell us about your journey throughout the education sector right from the beginning of your career.
I followed an academic path, graduating in commerce while pursuing Computers from Aptech. But I always had a passion for helping people and making a difference. Thanks to my curious nature and strong innate healing abilities and sense, I learned Reiki and other alternative modalities therapies. At only 17 years, I completed Master level Reiki. Further, I also completed the 3rd level in Hypnotherapy from the EKAA foundation.
I specialize in CBT, Positive Psychology, and counseling techniques to improve psychological and mental health. I am also a Happiness Life Coach. I have also done a Certificate Course in Emotional Development in Children from DDF Social e-Learning (backed by European Association for Distance Learning Spain) and Certificate Course in Leading Change: Go Beyond Gamification with Gameful Learning – University of Michigan.
I entered the field of counselling and training (Yoga/Meditation and Mindfulness) as a freelancer and have worked in Kolkata, Nigeria, and Ahmedabad.
In 2014, I joined an NGO named ‘Saath’ as their livelihood trainer and counsellor. Later in 2016, I joined Anand Niketan School, a premier school in Ahmedabad. I worked as a ‘Behavioral Counsellor’ while taking special classes for middle school students. These classes were a combination of Adolescent training (Teen Challenges and Emotional regulation), emotional intelligence, and happiness. These classes are called (SFA) Skills for Adolescence. I am also the founder and director of Mi Merak, a concept that was sown a few years back but saw the light in 2021.
What inspired you to step into the education industry? Who were your role models growing up?
The impetus of studying psychology came to me from my two wonderful and inquisitive children. Though the transition from commerce background to psychology was not sudden, Reiki was the start of my journey in that direction. Later I took the plunge and pursued MA in Counselling Psychology, where I felt that I had a gift of understanding the psyche of humans and that it was my duty to bring a massive change in society simply by following my profession as a holistic mental health therapist. I have also completed a certificate course in Special Education and a diploma in Mental Health from Nimhans Digital Academy.
Tell us about your esteemed institute’s mission, vision, and core values.
Anand Niketan School – Ahmedabad (Behavioural Counsellor/Happiness Coach)
The vision of the school is “To Create a place where all individuals can develop their individuality in a socially acceptable manner, for the benefit of the society.”
Mi Merak – It’s My Life (Director Founder)
Mi Merak, in simple words means finding pleasures and happiness in everything around US.
At Mi Merak, we strive to enable human beings to go through the process of Self Discovery. We follow the art of SELF DISCOVERY through the technique of C3T- Counselling, Coaching, Consulting & Training through the following mode:
S – Self Awareness
E – Emotional Development
L – Learning, Unlearning and Relearning
F – Focus Training for Total Development
By Discovery of Need Analysis – Skill Gap – Strength – Weakness – Goal
Kindly share your views regarding interactive, online educational content.
It’s true that Online teaching can be the best drive curriculum, but it can never fulfil the other social requirements of a physical environment. After all, schools are not just about studies but about team building, community formation, interpersonal relations, and social engagement – in fact, all those qualities that make a human, social creature.
What are the biggest challenges and struggles faced by educators during the pandemic?
Human Beings are social animals. They are not meant to be locked down in a restricted environment for protracted periods of time. Yet this pandemic forced our hand. Everyone is affected, but the most affected are obviously the children – the psychological scars far outstrip the physical ones, the Silent Sufferers – The QuaranTEENed Students.
Challenges and Opportunities
The biggest reason has been non-exposure to school. In contrast, we tried to look for various technological solutions that have been at best patchy. After all, especially in countries like ours, beset by inconsistent speeds and a giant digital divide, Zoom, Google Classroom, or WebEx are hardly adequate solutions.
In fact, it has been challenging for educators as online teaching and learning is a massive shock for both teachers’ productivity and students’ social life and learning. Few challenges being
- How to engage students on board
- Ways to avoid distractions from other social networking sites during the online classes
- Turning teaching material into digital format at short notice as very few educators have strong digital and ICT skills
- Internet connectivity issues
The quarantine has made the educators reinvent themselves – turning challenges into opportunities. For instance,
- Online education (school) is helping children keep their sanity
- Giving direction to their anxious and confused mind
- Allowing them to speak up
- Innovative activities to keep them engaged
- Structure and discipline to the otherwise unstructured routine of the new normal
- Structure and discipline to the otherwise unstructured routine of the new normal
Education is considered a tool of empowerment. What efforts do you and the institution take to ensure that education is provided to those who need it?
I feel there is a strong Need for Soft Skills, Emotional Intelligence & Positive Attitude.
Students of today are the future employers and employees of profitable global businesses. To stand out as promising assets to any multinational organisation, they need to invest in sharpening what are labeled as soft skills.
Students with high emotional intelligence can better manage themselves and relate to others around them. This can not only help them develop improved self-motivation and good communication skills but also become confident learners.
And the Anand Niketan School is one progressive school that feels holistic development of students is the need of the hour. SFA (Skills for Adolescence) and happiness classes are the proof of the same.
Kindly mention any of your awards, accolades, and accreditations.
Awards and Achievements
- Indian Psychological Association (IPA)- Academic Excellence Award 2020
- Super Woman 2020 – Forever Star India Awards
- Research Excellence Award 2020 – Institute of Scholars (INSC)
- Excellence Award Women Researcher – National Educational Brilliance Award (NEBA)
- Award for Contribution in Health Awareness – International Education Award
- Top 50 Influencers – GTown Society Magazine
- Remarkable Women 2021 Award
- Appreciation – Humanitarian Excellence (I Can Foundation)
- Award for contribution in Research and Development in higher education – MIMT
- Best Research Paper Presentation – MIMT
- Bharat Gaurav Puraskar and Certificate of Excellence Award 2021 – KTK Outstanding Achievers and Education Foundation
- Mindful Educator of the Year Award 2021- Mind On
- IBRF Young Researcher Award-2021 – International Benevolent Research Foundation
- Super Woman 2021 – Motivational Speaker – FSIA
- Top 100 Women Leadership Award – Glantor X 2022
- Indian Science Congress (ISCA)– Life Member (L39631)
- APA (American Psychological Association) – (C2002596327)
- International Benevolent Research Foundation – Bonafide Student (IBRF/177/ORM/2020J)
- Indian School Psychology Association (InSPA) – Life Member (AM/2020/10728)
- Counsellors Council of India (CCI) – Life Member (CRN7729099)
- Member of World Federation for Mental Health
What advice can you give to those who want to step into the field of education?
Be a lifelong student and try to think Beyond Academics: ‘Learn, Unlearn and Relearn.’
Please share what lies ahead for you and your institution in the near future.
My dream is to reach the apex of my chosen field of study to benefit adolescents and youngsters in the most formative years of their lives. I am also a volunteer at ‘Wellbeing Volunteers United (Poddar Foundation)’ where I work with communities to combat stress and anxiety that has been a by-product of the Global Pandemic.
Some of my other projects include ‘Advocating Empathy’ and ‘Swayam Rakshak.’
Advocating Empathy: Through online webinars, workshops, talks, and articles spreading awareness for the need to include emotional intelligence, specially Empathy as a mainstream subject in early childhood education.
Swayam Rakshak: Workshop to spread the importance of Psychological self-defence and awareness about financial literacy.
I wish to continue with the mission of spreading awareness about Mental Health by regularly organizing webinars and online lectures and writing a research paper to evangelise the breaking down of stigmas surrounding mental health, especially in school children.
My dream is to remove the stigma and shame surrounding mental health with strong faith and determination. I am on a journey to help children, youth, and adults alike and help them break free from degrading mental and psychological health issues.