An honesty app titled, ‘Sarahah’ has been doing the rounds on social media for various reasons. A Mumbai psychiatrist named Milan Balakrishnan has now gets signed on to this popular social media app to answer anonymous questions regarding mental health.
Anonymity can act as a boon in disguise, if used rightly. This is somewhat the basic ideology behind the idea of the honesty app, ‘Sarahah’ developed by a Saudi creator named Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq.
As soon as it hit the Internet, it has been used by multiple people and has become one of the prime topics of discussion among the youth online. “Every now and then, there is a craze for some app or video game or a drug. All of this is because anonymity is a platform that lets you do things that you wouldn’t do otherwise. It is all good, as long as you know to handle it,” said Dr Rohan Jahagirdar, consultant Psychiatrist at Chaitanya, a de-addiction centre.
“It is important to use any app very carefully,” said Dr Milan Balakrishnan, consultant Psychiatrist at JUNO. “We all know that the app was created with the idea of sharing anonymous comments. But I thought I should twist the use of this platform to help us in communicating better. Since I opened my inbox on the app, I have got about six to eight queries regarding mental health.”
It is indeed really wonderful to be able to communicate one’s problem to the world. “In metros, people at least come out and talk about their mental health, in rest of the country, its worse,” he added.
Dr Balakrishnan has been getting multiple queries ranging from severe mental health queries like suicides to extra-marital affairs and so on. “The idea is to use the platform as an agony aunt where in people can talk without even me knowing who it is. The idea of remaining anonymous is okay as far as I can help some people in this manner.”
Ever since the app has come out, there has been an excessive worry about cyber-bullying, “I would like to call apps like this a glorified way of cyber-bullying. Why should we try to hide any of our health issues? We must try to address the vulnerability of the young minds at this point rather than anything else,” said Dr Heena Merchant, ex-secretary of the Bombay Psychiatry Association and Assistant professor at KEM Hospital.
“Anonymous comments can lead to expression of jealousy, defamation of character, cyber bullying, trolling and blackmailing. It can make an individual extremely vulnerable as they’re at the mercy of a sender,” said Havovi Hyderabadwalla, co-founder of Mind Mandala and Clinical and Forensic psychologist.