Miss India Worldwide takes on mental wellness awareness in schools

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Highlighting the need for students to have an outlet for their everyday stressors, Miss India Worldwide, Aruna Sukhdeo, has embarked on a strategic mental health awareness campaign to be rolled out in local schools.

The reigning Miss India Worldwide 2023, Aruna Sukhdeo with the Golden Arrowhead

The 20-year-old University of Guyana student, during an interview with the News Room on Friday last, said that her journey to the crown was made of up lots of early mornings and late nights. However, her passion for providing young women and men with a safe space to share their mental struggles was ‘top of the agenda.’

Since dominating the stage in India on June 18, Sukdeo has returned to Guyana with hopes of establishing this programme at schools in the new school year.

“Personally it was something that I struggled with because of getting perfect grades and being engaged in extracurricular activities. You feel pressured, you feel stressed and it takes a toll on your mental health.

“For me  I had my parents to talk about it but for some persons, that might not be the same,” the Reigning Miss India Worldwide said.

Sukhdeo’s ambitious platform will be targeted to students who might be feeling the same stressors she experienced as a student.

“I feel it [mental health] is such a taboo topic that people don’t even want to talk about it. They feel ashamed and this is something we should not be ashamed of.

“Most of the persons who are affected with mental health are young adults and teenagers so what I intend to do is create this programme that will allow students to be free to talk about it. If they can’t talk about it to their school councilors or teachers, they can share it with a friend and by creating such a programme, it’s going to have a ripple effect,” Sukhdeo said.

The reigning queen will visit schools and have discussions with young people to promote these safe spaces.

Before the pageant, Sukdeo spent her days studying and working when she was not writing songs. She is in her final year at university, studying business economics.

Aruna Sukhdeo and her parents (Photo: Aruna Sukhdeo)

Sukdeo is an only child and hails from Bladen Hall, East Coast Demerara. She explained that poetry writing is a talent that she slowly developed as hobbies and

“When I was at home I would do songwriting; that was something that I actually planned on getting out this year.  However I took a turn and entered pageantry instead,” Sukhdeo said.

Sukhdeo won the local Miss India Pageant on May 5 and a month later she made her debut on the international stage. She said that she had six days to prepare after arriving in India and her rest was limited but she said these sacrifices were made to ensure that she could walk away with a position.

According to Sukhdeo, her support came from her team and her family. She said if not becoming the queen, she was determined to be either the first or second runner up and her team was confident she would get it.

Because the pageant was held on Father’s Day, Sukdeo said her father told her the only gift he wanted was for her to win.

“When I won it was a lot of emotions because that is when you realize you’re the second title holder after a very long time. I cried because I guess my heart was so filled that I couldn’t hold it in,” she said.

Sukhdeo encourages other young people to take risks and do things they are passionate about.

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