SOS alumni and psychologist shares his mental health advice

Friday, December 2, 2022

Bharat, 23, grew up in an SOS Children’s Village in India and is now a psychologist, helping young people navigate their mental health challenges.  After studying psychology at Amity University, he counselled children and young people and worked with patients with chronic mental disorders. 


His connection to SOS Children's Villages continues as he is a member of the YouthCan! Youth Advisory Board, helping to advocate for young people to receive the support they need as they transition to independence. 


Hear more of Bharat's story and his advice to young people.


"Why did I decide to study psychology? The reasons were more personal, at first. I wanted to become the strongest version of myself. I wanted to grow as a person and understand myself from the perspective of my past.


"Having to decide on a career path puts enormous pressure on young people. At this point in my life, I was struggling with my emotions, unsure of what profession to choose. But ever since I was a teenager, the human mind has fascinated me more than anything. Later on, I discovered that as psychologists, we cannot read minds, but we can read behaviours and help people.


"At the beginning of my studies, I realized how little I knew. In India and many other parts of the world, children in schools are not taught that mental health exists and needs to be taken care of. I realized it fully during my internship in a rehabilitation center for patients with chronic mental disorders. Some of these patients have passed away, but I will always remember their stories.

Bharat Ahirwar - YouthCan!

"Mental illness can destroy a person’s life – their thought processes, physical health, and relationships. Everything we need to have a good life can be taken away by a mental health condition if the right kind of help does not come on time. When you live with a mental disorder, you cannot think about the future. You cannot plan your tomorrow because you do not know who you are today.


"It is crucial to take care of the emotional well-being of children and young people at the earliest stage possible so that they do not carry their mental health issues into adulthood. 


"Growing up in an SOS Children’s Village, I’ve witnessed trauma play a major role in children’s and young people’s lives. Many of us have lost our parents and suffered violence or abuse. This is why we need caregivers with mental health training.


"We need caregivers who can understand what children and young people are struggling with on the inside because trauma is not visible on the outside. We need adults who take the time to bond with us and make us feel supported and encouraged. If a child does not feel safe in a relationship, how can they talk openly about their problems? 


"Children around the world suffer from loneliness which leads to anxiety and depression. Those in alternative care often struggle even more because of their traumas and emotional dysregulation. They cannot find inner stability and their trust issues prevent them from building relationships. Academic pressure is another burden. 


"I wish all children and young people courage, support, and opportunities for self-care and self-expression. If you feel sad or angry, don’t suppress it. Share your thoughts, socialize, and be physically active to keep your mind clear. Do not give up on experiencing life, jump on every opportunity. Build your inner strength and resilience to be prepared for what comes next. And if you struggle emotionally, ask for help. You do not have to go through whatever you are going through on your own. You have the right to be supported to feel good. And if you feel good, you can do good in the world."

Canadians wishing to help vulnerable children are encouraged to sponsor a child, sponsor an SOS Village or make a one-time donation. Your support will change the lives of orphaned, abandoned and other vulnerable children. Please help today.