Months after the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, its impact on the world as we knew it is still unclear—and, in many cases, unfathomable. 

One of the areas of increasing concern is the pandemic’s impact on mental health. Global bodies such as the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) have warned about the mental health fallout of the pandemic. 

According to a WHO estimate, the global economy loses more than $1 trillion a year in productivity due to depression and anxiety.

But neither the pandemic nor these disturbing statistics deterred Bengaluru-based social entrepreneur Devika Arora, who deployed her online education platform to help teenagers and young adults build emotional and mental strength to face the challenges posed by the lockdown.  

The 31-year-old founder of Magic Mind offered its 25-plus courses for free to anyone who needed support in several areas from mindfulness to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and self-care.

Arora also opened up Magic Mind’s source code and set up a system of campus ambassadors for the larger outreach of these resources. A vast e-library of Psychology and Philosophy books, journals, and worksheets were also shared publicly.

As a certified mind, life and career coach Arora also knew that, at a time like this, children are especially vulnerable and their distress often invisible. So she began doing pro bono counseling work and first-aid psychological interventions with children from COVID-affected families in Europe and Asia. 

And that’s why Devika is one of Harappa’s 10 Habit Heroes whose can-do spirit and attitude during these challenging few months has made us pause and take notice. All the Habit Heroes walked the extra mile to help people during the lockdown when thousands of people lost their jobs and children had to stop going to school. 

Devika counseled many such children whose lives were suddenly disrupted. She recounts the story of a nine-year-old girl in Italy who lost her mother to COVID-19. 

“One cannot fathom the pain or trauma of losing their only parent, especially now. I felt incredibly helpless but deeply responsible for her wellbeing, and knew that she should not be alone at a time like this,” says Devika. “I instantly reached out to my network in Naples, and within hours, she was picked up by a wonderful 68-year-old woman and taken into a warm, loving home to be cared for for the time being.”

The child girl is now with her real family but visits her foster ‘grandmother’ often. 

The focus of Devika’s ‘heroism’ remained anchored in her area of expertise, mental health, but her heart also reached out to street animals, many of whom were left hungry during the lockdown. She raised funds for feeding street animals for two months until things limped back to normalcy. 

When asked what motivates her, “What I love to do is help other people uncover their potential and find their way back to feeling good again. This is why I’m so passionate about mental health.”

Devika Arora is one of 10 Harappa Habit Heroes. Meet all the Habit Heroes here and learn more about the work of other Habit Heroes here and here.

Indu Anand is an Associate Director with the Curriculum team at Harappa Education. A career corporate communicator and content creator, she is enjoying finding her Hero Habit.

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