Talking ‘Mental Health’: In an Interview with Nikhil Taneja – Yuva @Weareyuva

In interview with Influmagnite, Nikhil Taneja talks about the most trending topic – Mental Health

Nikhil Taneja, CEO & CoFounder of Yuvaa and the Global Advisory Board Member of Goalkeepers, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


How did you go from being an engineer to Content Creator to being a professor and mental health advocate?

Like any other boy, I was pushed into Engineering and since my engineering days, my inclination was more towards content writing and creative pursuits. From developing content for my college

magazine to making web shows, I landed at my first job as an entertainment journalist for the Hindustan Times and climbed the ladders to become the GM at Yash Raj Films. I taught Journalism for 7 years at Jai Hind College, Mumbai.

This period was one of my most fulfilling journeys and it escalated my learning curve. I was learning more than teaching. I believe there is always so much to learn from the younger generation. I started YUVA as an initiative to create socially conscious content and start meaningful conversations among and about Indian youth, particularly on mental health and gender.

Question 2:

Despite the most perfect life that is shown on social media, mental health today is a bigger issue than ever before. What are your views about the same?

Empathy begins at home. Today, everyone is contributing to an ecosystem of #GoodVibes and showing ones “best self” online. However, our lives are just not about good things but a collection of a lot things that happen between the good stuff. By only talking about #Positivity, we are creating a culture where only things worth talking about or expressing is the good stuff. Whereas the ‘Real stories’ are actually happening in between those Insta stories.

Social media has taught us to be expressive; but we choose to express only the side we want to show the world.

Sometimes it is alright to share the vulnerable parts of our self too. Social media needs to portray our authentic self, wholesomeness and emphatic nature. This will ensure we remain true to ourselves.

Question 3:

What steps can we collectively take to tackle this problem?

The first step to tackle the problem that exists is to identify it. It comes with understanding the social media behavior of individuals. Most people start using social media to express oneself. However, this soon is translated into getting validation and we start using ‘likes’ as a measuring tool. Our focus changes from expressing ourselves to try and best cater to our audience and put out content they might like.

We get caught in this trap and post not what we want but what might get more likes. At the end of it, ‘likes’ and ‘follows’ becomes the real reason for the post going up versus actually expressing yourself. So it is important that although we are creating our life on social media, we need to realize that it is only a part of our lives and cannot be the whole thing. We need to be genuine to ourselves and not fall in this trap of getting digital validation.

Question 4:

Do you have advice for influencers who themselves face anxiety due to Social Media?

Authenticity matters the most. When people put up Instagram stories, they are only putting up the best version of their life and keeping all the other stuff only to themselves. This culture of posting only positive content on social media takes a toll on oneself. If you are constantly thinking that I only need to post about positive and good things, what happens when you have gone through a hard day or feeling low? You will stop from putting yourself out there and expressing yourself just because you think that the whole “influencer” thing is only about positivity. That’s not how it should be. It should be about wholesomeness, being empathetic to yourself first and then being empathetic to others. It should be okay for us to share some of the vulnerable parts of our lives as well.

Question 5:

Can you suggest simple Lifestyle changes to boost our mental health from the comfort of our homes?

There is an entire genre on the internet called “wellbeing”, which sort of helps you have a little more balance in your life and avoid having mental health issues. However, there is no one solution that fits all. Each needs to find what works well for themselves. Meditation has helped a lot of people, listening to music, exercising or simply taking a walk! Journaling has helped me a lot personally. However, what’s important is to disconnect from technology and take out a few moments every day to take a pause, think and get in touch with yourself. There is so much noise in the world that sometimes you can’t hear your own thoughts. It is also absolutely vital to speak to loved ones and just express yourself and not keep all your emotions hidden inside.

Question 6:

What’s one of your most important learnings?

We need to give youngsters the respect of being heard. We, unfortunately, don’t listen to them enough and as a society we have kept a boundary on who can express and we have always labelled vulnerability as a weakness.

We have always looked down upon guys crying by calling it “girly” which is not only offensive

to men but also women. Crying is absolutely healthy and we should not have to put a restriction on displaying our emotions. We need to listen to people, allow ourselves to express and show the world that being emotional is okay and vulnerability is a strength.


Three TV shows, I’ll recommend for everyone to watch: This is Us, Schitt’s Creek and BoJack Horseman

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