Today we’d like to introduce you to Anvita Jain.
So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My mental health journey started with panick attacks during my final semester at UT Austin. On the surface, it seemed like I was all set for success – about to graduate from UT Austin with an engineering degree with an offer to start as a Business Analyst at Capital One. Underneath, my mental health was in turmoil and I had no idea how to begin taking care of it. During my first six months on the job, my mental wellness was on a steady decline as I tried to bury the dissatisfaction I felt at work underneath a metaphorical rug. Finally, I reached a breaking point, went to a doctor for diagnosis and quit my job because it was detrimental to my recovery. I dedicated the next several months to doing some soul searching and getting treatment.
Eventually, I decided to go back to graduate school at Texas A & M University to pursue a Master’s in Human Resources Management. Treatment taught me so much about the impact of mental health on every facet of my life and how to prioritize it. This shift was instrumental to my success after starting graduate school. Instead of viewing myself as a victim of mental illness, I became a dedicated mental health advocate. I shared my narrative via social media and became involved in MannMukti as a Partnerships Chair, partnering with various organizations to share stories, educate people and share resources. Over time, I worked my way up to leading this team as VP Partnerships. In addition to that, I have found strength in sharing my story through writing, including articles for The Anxiety Chronicles series by the Washington Post, Thrive Global, and Young Jain Professionals. After graduate school, I started my career as a Human Resources Advisor at Dell Technologies, where I hope to continue advocating for mental wellness in the workplace.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My mental wellness has been a roller coaster of challenges. Career challenges have included quitting my first job, pivoting to a field I had absolutely no experience in and a hectic recruiting season in pursuit of an internship during graduate school. Even with all the mental strain, I was experiencing due to dissatisfaction with my first job, I was unwilling to quit. It took the support of my family and my therapist to convince me to prioritize my health. I felt completely lost after I quit because all my life I had tied my self worth directly to my productivity and accomplishments. Entering graduate school with absolutely no experience in Human Resources was daunting. I definitely had a case of imposter syndrome and felt like I was starting behind my classmates. On top of an accelerated course load, handling a packed interview season seemed overwhelming. After choosing the wrong job for myself once, it took me a while to trust myself to choose the right company the second time. Personal challenges have included breaking down deeply entrenched perfectionism, reframing my inner dialogue and being disciplined about my mental care routine. Being able to work while relaxed was a foreign concept to me that took me years to become comfortable with. However, it is thanks to overcoming these challenges that I have built up the strength to fight the stigma against mental health.
Please tell us about MannMukti.
MannMukti focuses on eradicating the stigma surrounding mental health within South Asian communities via encouraging open dialogue, improving awareness, and promoting self-care. We offer a storytelling platform and a community for South Asians to share their journeys and seek support. Launched in 2017, MannMukti was founded by Abhijith (Abhi) Ravinutala after the death of his friend due to mental illness in 2015. In addition to the difficult nature of the work that we take on and our focus on the South Asian community, the variety of ways we share mental health stories makes us unique. We have done a plethora of collaborations, including collaborative articles, a music video and merchandise. We tell stories via a “Humans of MannMukti” series, our own podcast series and various social media platforms. We are also proud of our expansion to college campuses via our University Chapters.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
One of my favorite memories from childhood is the moment I became comfortable with swimming. I used to be so scared of water that I couldn’t even take showers; I would have to take baths instead. Insisting that swimming is a critical skill, my parents put me in swimming lessons. There I was among kids much younger than me comfortably swimming to the deepest end while I was shrieking even with the swimming instructor right by my side. Finally, the moment came when I realized that the water was not my enemy, and that I could, infact, keep myself afloat and make it from one end to the other safely. Since then, I actually became a huge fan of swimming and even joined my high school swim team!
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Check out No Home Summer: A Documentary