Back in 2018, 1st June, Turn To Positive was established to promote mental health and accessing information about it. Turn To Positive is a youth-led community-based volunteer organization. Since its establishment, Turn To Positive has continuously engaged in social activities at the ground level and organized workshops and seminars with national and international organizations. During Corona time, we dedicatedly try to enforce health care facilities by launching free oxygen services towards corona affected people.
Our activities are related to advocating mental health, women mental health, organizing workshops; seminars, promoting mental health-related education materials, connecting psychologists and psychiatrist those who need. Finally, planting trees as we find out the environment is related to mental health. After much analysis, we find out our activities are partly related to SDGs 3, 5, 13, and 17.
Social Action Plans
- Community-based social activities, which are program designing, evaluating, rewriting, sponsor management, and workshop organizing;
- Advocating women Mental Health;
- Mental Health Program at primary level students;
- Mental Health advocating program at the secondary level students;
- At the university level students, Mental Health advance advocating and executing;
- Organizing national, international level seminars regarding mental health;
- Accessing free education platform about mental health;
- Recently at corona time, we opened a hotline for free delivery service about oxygen cylinders.
Our whole activist of the social action plan is related to making students capable of being empathic learners. Our activities also help to impact good social-emotional support at education institutions, the workplace, and family. We worked with many volunteers and ambassadors from the top-level university of Bangladesh and abroad.
community-Based Social Activity:
This action plan’s primary purpose is to encourage young people to participate in social work. Our sole duty is to make sure young people can be elegant team players to become mental health 1st aider, reduce bully culture, and increase psychological support when anyone needs it at any place. Being part of it, we also introduce SDGs to the young people, arrange competitions, online and offline programs, and design workshops. Furthermore, anyone can volunteer to guide mental health talk with the underprivileged children at our branch office.
Following this action plan, we organized a community-based Action plan Program in American Center at Archer k Blood Library back in 2018, where 34 participants took part. We talked about making social action plan; design and evaluate social work activities. Some participants become Turn To Positive members others open their own social or enterprise venture.
When it comes to introducing SDGs, UN-supported free resources play unique roles. 1st we followed free resources from UN SDG learning, then back in 2020, we partnered with UNDP: MOVERS program. Here, we are continuously able to train young people about SDGs. Till now, we trained 300 participants.
With the National Debate federation (NDF BD), we organized some debate workshops. We include debate in our action plan as extracurricular activities where young people can engage socially, reducing their social awkwardness. In our, all programs are designed in a socially supportive way that is why no one feels judged. Our important program with NDF BD makes a presence at the Mymensingh region and Dhaka University.
We also give volunteer service to some underprivileged children at the Dhaka branch office situated at the Banani. As our focus is mental health, we talk about mental well-being and hygiene. Around 40-45 children join us weekly.
Advocating Women Mental Health
Action plan focusing on women’s mental health ensure gender equality. From the beginning of Turn To Positive, make sure there should be a gender disparity in terms of advocating mental health. With the support from the female campus ambassador, we connect women in need of another woman, connecting female psychologists when any female needs any help. On International Women Day, we also organize a particular program that includes rallies and posters mentioning women’s mental health also matter. In this action plan, our work is precise in making the workplace, educational institutions a well-being place.
Primary Level Mental Health Advocating:
The main priority of this social action plan is to develop the social, emotional, and behavioral well-being of the primary level students. Our main activity is to open a dialogue channel among students, teachers, and students in the education institution. Ultimately, this will address mental illness and reduce injustice to those who need special care in the regular education process. With visual representation, we also teach children to be empathy responders towards their classmates.
We worked with 68no Iswargonj primary school, Mymensingh, to implement this action plan, where students from all 4th and 5th standards participate. We visually represent the way to be empathy responders with school projectors. Open a dialogue box with support from the headmaster. The school authority agreed to continue creating mental health dialogue regularly. At village level primary school, we have to introduce the proper way of talking about border sense of generic mental illness which was utterly different from any urban primary school.
In Dhaka city, we went to Pogose Laboratory School. With the same process, we interacted with a total of 150 boys and girls of primary level. After the session, we were astonished to find out the enthusiasm about mental health talk among them. Some even want to make a small club in their compound as a react with the help of principal we helped to open a mental health club for the first time in any education premises
Secondary Level Mental Health Advocating
We focused on empathy, psychological 1st aid workshop for the secondary level students. We want secondary students to be capable of understanding their mental health status and take care of others. We organized to break the stigma program to break the prejudice of the mental health stigma. The main focus of this level of the action plan is all about teaching and training.
For appearing our desired plan, we worked with rural area colleges and high schools. At Susong Durgapur High School, we trained about empathy listener and Mental Health 1st aider with the help of a local NGO. We focused 250 students on the group learning session, poster presentation, finally establishing a mental health club in their premises considered our successful and meaningful activation.
At Savar Girls High School, we also focus on teaching and presenting empathy learning modules and psychological first aid. Emphasizing women’s health development, we implemented our secondary level Mental Health Advocating program. We trained 150 girls alongside launching a mental health club to be active in discussing mental health continuously.
University Level Mental Health advocating
While the secondary level focuses on providing workshops about empathy and psychological first aid in our design, university-level advocating focuses on teaching and training and implementing at the field level. Our primary purpose is to prepare students to become active psychological 1st aider in terms of any calamities. In this case, we all time get support from the National Mental Health Institution and Monsuba Counseling.
At the Islamic University of Technology (IUT), we can motivate 50 students to become fast mental health responders if any disaster happens. We can motive university authorities for prepared and respond in terms of any psychological needs.
The exact process also goes at the rural area degree college like Cumillah Govt women’s college and Durgapur Mohila Degree College. Our action plan is designed in such a way where the outcome is not a one-way end. Those trained volunteers become active in their region. They carry out further advocating and teaching programs regarding mental health. We evaluate those activities by our presence of the club at their institution premises.
Turn To Positive was lucky as we organized the global mental health festival 2020 with partnering United Nations Major Group of Children and Youth (UNMGCY) and Chittagong University Career Club(CUCC). Renowned mental health experts from around the globe attend here; the event was also got featured at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs(UNDESA). Further that Turn To Positive regularly organized online seminars with the presence of nationwide mental health experts. The objective of our mental health seminar are:
- tackling the current state of mental health condition, innovate new ideas;
- inspiring youth in taking part and do advocacy on mental health;
- creating youth advocacy group that will do advocacy towards familiar people and policy recommendations regarding country policy;
- Inspiring institutions to make mental health clubs by organizing small segments regarding mental health talk in their activities.
Free Education platform
We already launched a learning platform dedicated to mental health illness and recovery. The counselor from National Traum Center helped us a lot in this matter. Psychologist MahburuburRahman from Fardipur medical college is our advisor about this action plan. Currently, we launched psychological 1st AID, Empathy listener, and counseling: for everyday life courses. Currently, 180 students enrolled in our online classes and completed them.
Moreover, more studies will include. We also share mental health information and videos daily through our volunteers.
Exceptional work during the Covid-19 situation
During the difficult time, we organize an awareness campaign and deliver thousand and thousand of masks among familiar people. Our campaign focuses on the rural area to the village people, as villagers are not much aware at that time. Before two eid breaks, while many people had to influx from one location to another, we launched our campaign at Mymensingh, Bogura, Rajshahi rural areas. We actually could not able to evaluate our campaign result because of a funding shortage. Among 10,000 people who got into our domain of mask campaign, we did not complete a report on whether they benefited. However, with many initiatives by others, including the government, the Covid 19 situations become normalize. So we can take credit for that success story by taking our small steps.
Process of Obstacle
As a founder of Turn To Positive, my journey was not easy. But I am lucky as I got support from my parents, teachers, volunteers, and co-workers. Without their activity and volunteers participation, I could not go this far and plan decisive action plans. Even though running Turn To Positive for almost three years, I find some difficulties, want to point it out for helping new people who want to open volunteer organizations.
- Lack of Team innovation: My team member is vast, and volunteers are large at number. For small social action, a one-way outcome, many volunteers participate with enthusiasm, but ultimately they lose interest. Whenever I try to track outcome results with much involvement in those who attend the same social action, I lack willingness. After analyzing, I find out if anyone wants to be involved in any same social action plan for a long time, they want financial benefits. So we should make an action plan small with small targeted people, expressly if we are a youth-led volunteer organization.
- The difficulty of registration: In my country, registering a volunteer organization is not an easy option. There is no choice called a volunteer organization at my government registry book. Most of us then have to go with non-profit, foundation, or society domain, which is costly and time-consuming registration. Most youth-led volunteers either do not choose the registry process, or they go with the business registry. In many countries, the recognition process of a youth-led volunteer organization is easy, and we could follow those.
- Sponsorship Management: While there is a question about registration asking about sponsorship management is a luxury. Youth-led volunteer organizations have little scope of getting sponsorship or donation. Myself, I find stress at no company; NGOs recognized Turn To Positive as evaluate to reserve sponsors or donations. They gave financial support to me personally but not to Turn To Positive. This situation happens because of difficulties in the registration process. In the context of my country, just like many youth-led volunteer organizations that do not exist in the paper, I registered Turn To Positive as Business. Eventually, it results in document and bank account difficulties for sponsor management. Why will any sponsor or donation company subsequently support a business intern of volunteer activities?
- Poorly Program Design: I also designed some plans poorly, lack of funding and workforce. Poorly designed programs come when there is a mismatch between targetted audience and objective. For successful implementation, a good design of social action plan much needs.
- Lack of transparency: I often work with the public’s trust, students, and co-workers. From gathering public funds, donation management, volunteers management, transparency is a must. It is undoubtedly a difficult task to maintain transparency all time. The situation worsens; if any corrupt volunteers join the team,
- Benefits of Doubts: It does not matter if I have a prominent NGO or small volunteer organization; people, the authority, will doubt. All-time I have to handle those situations with a cool head. Moreover, people can also fall into a trap and do illegal activities in the name of the volunteer organization. With my honest will and dedication, I try to eradicate the benefits of the doubt and go through with Turn To Positive.
Future Activities and plan
Turn To Positive all time made action plans and pre-plan before any stepping ahead. Our goal is divided into the short-term and long-term. In a short-term strategy, we target to do registry from the ministry of social welfare. Furthermore, manage permanent sponsors. In a long-term process, we will help establish a mental health club with every educational institution. With the government’s help, ministry of women and children, we will complete our full-scale education platform credit-based and noncredit dedicated to mental health. I build an empathy AI-based responder; with other AI-based services will open an innovation hub to study more about empathy minds. Very soon, we are connecting all mental health support centers towards people via app and website. We already collected the whole database and made a website. We also open a blockchain where people can donate via crypto. In the future, we are going to manage donations from platform crypto and traditional banking.
About the Author
Faezur Rahman Fahim
Founder Turn To Positive
Bangladesh University of Professionals