Satvik Sethi is a 23-year-old mental health advocate and founder of Runaway, an app and organization dedicated to providing mental health resources to youth around the world. It makes emotional support more accessible to high schoolers and college students.
“I think a lot of the stigma around mental health is generational,” Sethi told In The Know. “Mental health is bad, it’s taboo. I think my work and Runaway’s work is to normalize mental health.”
Growing up, Sethi dealt with bullying, social exclusion and isolation. At the time, he didn’t realize these were mental health issues, not just challenges or obstacles. Like many teens, he sought refuge online by reaching out to others on Instagram.
When that became too taxing, Sethi decided to create a space where young people could gather digitally and discuss the same issues he was facing. He founded Runaway when he was still a freshman in college.
“This was something that I was just doing myself,” he said. “I just started hosting events on college campuses and working with organizations like Mental Health America to conduct some research.
Today Runaway has a team of over 100 student volunteers around the world. Sethi is hoping to launch the Runaway app soon where young people can speak to its ambassadors, anonymously, to get support when they need help.
“Just like physical health everyone has mental health,” Sethi said. “Just like your physical health goes bad from time to time and you need to see a doctor or take medicine. Similarly, it’s OK for your mental health to go bad. Instead of making it a taboo subject or not talking about it, you just find help and do something that makes you feel better.”
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