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Mental health awareness walkathon - Bayarea - A Roaring success

by Sriteja Kataru

Aug- 2022

Did you know, according to WHO, that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide?

Or that 20 percent of children aged 9 to 17 have a diagnosable mental health condition but they are largely ignored? To spread awareness about such facts, we, at VTSeva Mental Health Wing, organized a walkathon this weekend. This activity attracted 75 enthusiastic participants. It was a roaring success!

To begin with, it was a beautiful lake setting on a pleasantly warm Saturday morning. We gathered at San Jose Almaden Lake Park in a waterfront picnic area. Some of us came prepared with motivational placards about mental wellness. After an educational session, we all walked along the meandering lakeside trail twice.

It was simply perfect. We walked leisurely, chatting with friends and holding the placards. We crossed a few rustic bridges, admired little ducks floating in the lake, and strolled through the dappled shade of lakeside trees. Best of all, when many passersby came up to us and asked about our cause, our volunteers readily took the opportunity to spread awareness.

We discussed how a lack of awareness and access to effective help are the two biggest barriers to mental health care, even in well-developed areas such as the SF Bay Area.

What’s more? One of the people who came up to us happened to be an officer from National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). She appreciated what we were doing. She also promised to include us in their future events. We are excited about this potential collaboration.

Notably, we also got a chance to rally the participants prior to the walk.

We conducted a series of educational talks by our team members as well as by our keynote speaker – Dr Beeta Verma, a well-known psychiatrist who is board certified in both child and adult psychiatry.

First, Sriteja spoke about the formation of VTSeva Mental Wellness Youth wing and how we follow a three-part approach - assess/educate/engage - to achieve our goals. Next, Ayush Shah talked about early signs of mental health problems. Anvith Konda elaborated on how depression is a growing problem. Dhruv Sastry discussed ADHD and its implications. Nidhi Parthasarathy brought attention to the issue of drug abuse in children. All through the session, Dr Verma provided her professional insights and offered tips on how to deal with all these issues.

At VTSeva Mental Wellness Wing, our mission is to transform the mental health of the local students through education and engagement. This walkathon, with its valuable educational session and engaging walking activity, perfectly served our mission. Not to mention, it boosted our serotonin levels and set the mood for a happy weekend.

Are you interested in joining our VTSeva Mental Wellness Wing? Please contact us at

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