Written By: Bilal, Hema, and Monika

Edited By: PCC Zahra Khuwaja

Mental Polaroids is an initiative that began back in June 2020, when the world was first navigating a nightmare known as “COVID-19”. The sudden pandemic led to emotional breakdowns and a significant increase in mental health issues around the globe. Some of which made a considerable impact on our lives and forced one of our founders to reach for their help and support. This was the beginning of “Mental Polaroids,” an initiative to spread awareness about mental health and its importance in one’s life.

In light of the impacts we discussed, we decided to take matters into our own hands and create a platform for open dialogue to talk about how people can deal with their mental health issues. With no one in our group being an expert in psychology, we turned to Prof Nicole Ditchman for her guidance. Additionally, with help from Prof Nik Rokop, we began transforming our vision into a startup. Over time, we slowly gathered more members from our peers and increased drive and mission. We even participated in Chicago Startup Week, received constructive criticism on improving our business idea, and even had thoughtful professionals who were so kind enough to join our panel of advisors.

Since starting our initiative, we have experienced several challenges along the way. The first thing was dealing with the stigma associated with mental health and learning to overcome it to create a community. The second big challenge that most organizations face during a pandemic is building a collaborative team in a fully remote world. Although these difficulties have been tough to overcome, we’ve learned the importance of communication and creating critical and clear objectives for an organization to survive in the professional world.

Through our initiative, we are getting hands-on experience in leadership. As each person comes from a different academic background, we each have different sets of challenges and skills to bring into the team. The more members who join our mission, the more creative our team gets as more ideas get to the table. Working in a startup environment is an excellent jump-start to our future career. We would already have experience in team-building, dealing with stakeholders, and matching our potential target customers’ expectations. By doing so, not only guarantees the startup’s success but also holistically improves our character and attitude in the workplace.

Even though at Mental Polaroids, none of us are experts and are from different backgrounds and majors, we still have common aspirations and are inclined together to the same goal: to bring and be the change.  Our initiative aims to make the world a better, safe place and help us work towards our passion and skills that are different from academics.

At Mental Polaroids, we have a mission: to bring the community together by fostering a safe space to talk about mental health and lower their obstacles to a healthy mindset. We seek to break the stigma and to normalize the “abnormal” all around the world. If you believe bettering everyone’s mental health can make a positive change, then feel free to follow us or join our team by following our social media (https://linktr.ee/mentalpolaroids_20).

Currently, the projects we are working on are our first podcast release, sharing our research through influential blogs, and finding other creative ways to connect with the masses on social media. If you love to research, express yourself through creative writing, or lead discussions, then the right place for you is Mental Polaroids.

Initiative Highlight: Mental Polaroids