ABOUT

The Bitty Oberoi Foundation (TBOF) was founded in June 2014 in memory of Bitty Oberoi, a psychologist who carried out pioneering work within school mental health. She was a recipient of the National Award for Education awarded by the Government of India in 2007 for her contribution to the lives of children with disability and mental health concerns within schools.

The foundation was established by her daughter, Nanki Oberoi, to carry forward her legacy. Through the organisation, she aims to promote mental health awareness underpinned by responsible information dissemination across the spheres of school and educational, organisational and community mental health. Nanki is a psychologist for Story Room, the clinical service set up in association with TBOF.

Mental health, understood simply, is a measure of our state of mind, just as physical health is a measure of our physical self. It can fluctuate day to day – or even hour by hour – and is influenced by many things in our lives, personal or professional. Some refer to it as emotional well-being. It may be helpful to think of mental health as existing on a continuum, a spectrum. An individual’s mental health may be assessed to lie anywhere on this continuum, depending on lifestyle factors such as how much sleep we’re getting, how stressful work is, whether we’re exercising and what our diet is like. A mental health issue is where someone shows signs that something isn’t right for them – they could be tearful, anxious or angry about certain things, or they may withdraw from situations.

How we bounce back from certain situations, a quality known as resilience, may differ from person to person. While some people might be able to handle the pressures life throws at them, others may struggle to do so, often for reasons beyond their control. We can view a mental health problem progressing towards illness status when a person cannot do what they would, should or could do with their life.

The labels ‘mental health issue’ and ‘mental illness’ are sometimes used interchangeably. The stigma around seeking help for one’s mental health continues to be a global problem, restricting individuals to seek mental health intervention or support. By the most conservative estimates, at least 5% of the population lives with a mental illness, which translates to over 50 million people. Nearly 9.8 million of young Indians aged between 13-17 are in need of active interventions. most mental disorders begin during youth, between the ages of 12 to 24 years. everyone has a story and each story matters. Big or small, mental health issues have long been shoved into the backs of our minds. From anxiety to autism, every problem that lies along the spectrum of mental health is real. So next time you hear the words ‘There’s something you should know’, make sure you’re listening.

ABOUT BITTY OBEROI

Bitty Oberoi was a psychologist who spent a major part of her life working towards mainstreaming mental health practices within schooling spaces. Beginning her career as a Psychologist at The Modi Hospital, she was inspired to move to school mental health because of her own son who had suffered hearing impairment at an early age. As a Counselling Psychologist at Delhi Public School (East of Kailash) New Delhi, she set up the resource centre as part of the school which admitted children with special needs. She then moved to Sanskriti School as a Founding member of the school under the leadership of Mrs. Gowri Ishwaran and developed the The Learning Centre, which envisioned to foster social and emotional integration of children with special needs into the mainstream classrooms. She developed a highly successful model of social integration during her time there, witnessing many children successfully supported academically at the centre through special education, while also receiving the social and emotional inputs they needed from their peers. She received the National Award for Education for her endeavours as the Director of the Learning Centre at Sanskriti School, New Delhi India, where she served until her sudden demise in 2013.

ABOUT THE FOUNDER – NANKI OBEROI

Nanki Oberoi is a Psychologist and Psychotherapist working with children, adolescents, young adults and families in New Delhi, India. She completed her masters at University College London and The Anna Freud National Centre for children and families as a Chevening Scholar, training in tools for psychodynamic theory, research and clinical practice. She is a licensed Mental Health First Aider (Youth) from MHFA England.

She co-founded The Bitty Oberoi Foundation (TBOF) to carry forward her mother’s legacy in the area of mental health and hopes to use it as a vehicle to spread awareness about mental health in areas of education, organisations and in the larger community. She looks forward to collaborating with fellow mental health organisations as well as stakeholders from the community to come together for innovative projects to achieve this endeavour. She is specifically fascinated by the use of art and cinema in building discourses around mental health.

For any queries regarding potential collaborations, you may contact tbofindia@gmail.com

Initiatives

Conference 2014

TBOF hosted its first conference on school mental health, titled Counselling for School Children in August 2014. The conference was graced by Lt. Governor of Delhi Mr. Najeeb Jung and saw national participation with educators and mental health professionals from Delhi, NCR, Dehradun, Sonipat, etc. Designed to bring together different stakeholders, the panel discussions were chaired by eminent names from the field such as child psychiatrist Dr. Amit Sen, psychotherapist Gloria Burrett, chairperson Nation Trust India Ms. Poonam Natarajan, Ms. Meenakshi Jolly, Director Education HRD Ministry along with parent representatives and a young person who brought to the forum personal narratives. The discussions ranged from understanding the mental health of children and exchanging ideas on how to create safe spaces for children in schools.

Conference 2017

After the enormously encouraging inaugural conference in August 2014, The Bitty Oberoi Foundation hosted its second conference on Understanding the myriad dimensions of children in August 2017.

The two-day event focussed on creating a space for teachers, educators, psychologists, psychotherapists, parents and all professionals associated with mental health to come together and through an interactive exchange, learn and share with one another, the knowledge and strategies on the much needed topic of inclusion within schools and discuss current models of mental health in education being practised across some eminent schools of the country.

The speakers are drawn from an eminent faculty in the mental health field including Clinical Psychologist Dr. Shelja Sen, Ms. Pooja Thakur, Principal Shri Ram School, Vasant Vihar, Ms. Mary Baruah, Action for Autism and Ms. Minoti Bahri, Chairperson Shikshantar School.

Workshop 2017

The Bitty Oberoi Foundation hosted a one-day workshop on Sexual and Gender identity: psychoanalytic perspectives by Dr. Monisha Nayar-Akhtar. The workshop used a psychoanalytic lens to explore the development of sexual and gender identity focussing primarily on the adolescent years. The workshop shed light on contemporary perspectives on how these complex identities emerge and are consolidated during this developmental phase. Participants were introduced to clinical cases that highlight gender fluidity, sexual ambiguity and the clinical challenges that accompany them. The workshop was for Counsellors, Psychotherapists and Psychologists.