“We are all always more than any one thing – so obviously I am more than my mental illness. I am all the parts of me plus the variables at that precise moment in time. We’re all dynamic and we always will be”, says Ira Khan.
Ira Khan was speaking as the chief guest at the 6th Anniversary event of The Hugging Club of India at Bandra, Mumbai. Ira, founder of Agatsu foundation, is also the daughter of actor-producer Aamir Khan. She has been in the media limelight lately for openly talking about her own cyclical depression. Several youngsters, following her on social media, have been inspired to open up about their own mental health issues. Her Agatsu foundation works in the area of mental health and well being.
The Hugging Club of India is an initiative to remove stigma around mental illness and offers a safe platform to express feelings and mental health challenges freely. Their anniversary event was held on 2 October, 2023, where Ira Khan was part of the discussion on the theme: “I am more than my Mental Illness”. The gist of the discussion was that our trauma can be a part of us but it need not define us. We all have the capability to heal from our pain.
The discussion also did not shy away from discussing a taboo topic like suicide. Ira herself is a Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper, certified by
‘Question, Persuade, Refer’ (QPR) and ‘Suicide Prevention India Foundation’ (SPIF).
The Hugging Club of India NGO also highlighted some achievements of their past 6 years:
-Stopped 40 people from dying of suicide.
-Helped over 1200 people to open up about their mental illness.
-Helped over 100 people to come out of various addictions.
-Organized and hosted over 500 mental wellness interactive sessions (online and offline) attended by over 9000 people across India.
-Created a 24 x7 support group for people with mental illness.
-Helped 18 people to restart working with emotional support and treatment.
-Reached out and spread awareness to lakhs through social media.
They also host India’s first-of-its-kind event series, where mental health experts talk about their own mental health challenges and how they overcame them.