Mental Health Champions: Why & How Mamta Gera Of The Leader In You & The Power Within You Podcast Is Helping To Champion Mental Wellness

An Interview With Michelle Tennant Nicholson

Michelle Tennant Nicholson
Authority Magazine
8 min readMay 8, 2023

--

Mindfulness. I do a mix of meditation and bird watching/photography, which gets me into a flow state and stops my thoughts so I’m just focusing on one thing.

As a part of our series about Mental Health Champions helping to promote mental wellness, I had the pleasure to interview Mamta Gera.

Mamta is a leadership and holistic wellbeing coach and facilitator, and the founder and host of The Power Within You Podcast, a series aimed at making mental health accessible for all through honest and vulnerable conversations with mental health advocates and experts. She is also a content and course creator; her programme The Power Within You is now an audio course available globally through Scribd.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

I grew up in the 1980s in an Indian household raised by baby boomer immigrant parents in North West London. In a way, my life had already been planned, and the steps to take were obvious: go to uni, enter the workforce, get married and have kids. So going off that planned path was a big no-no. But I did, and it had a significant — and a positive in the end — impact for me.

This is important because, in my house, emotions were not something deeply discussed or even acknowledged. As someone who was trying to understand who they were, suppressing my emotions had an impact on my mental and physical health.

That is why it was a struggle to find my own identity, and it took me many years to become my authentic self. But when I did, I was able to find purpose, love and joy both personally and professionally.

You are currently leading an initiative that is helping to promote mental wellness. Can you tell us a bit more specifically about what you are trying to address?

Unfortunately, mental health is not accessible to all. There is also still a lot of stigma, misinformation and misconceptions about mental health, particularly in diverse communities like the South Asian community.

It wasn’t until we were in the middle of the pandemic that I started to think about what I could do to normalise mental health conversations. Every day I was hearing from close friends, family and the people I coached that many were struggling and had no idea where to start or felt they were the only ones experiencing those emotions.

That is why I decided to start The Power Within You Podcast in 2022 to bring information, expert advice and resources to one place. I wanted to make it easy to understand mental health and be able to implement positive changes. So, every week, the podcast showcases personal, honest and vulnerable conversations with advocates and people from all walks of life to discuss their mental health journeys.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

When I was in my 20s, I began to suffer from panic attacks and didn’t have the support back then to get the help I needed. But I managed to get them under control by doing my own research and beginning therapy, which helped immensely.

It was my own personal experiences and interest that sparked my curiosity about mental health. Now, through my coaching and my MSc in the Psychology and Neuroscience of Mental Health, I am able to support people on their own journeys.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest them. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?

As a leadership and wellbeing coach, I realised that everyone I spoke to had or was suffering from mental health issues, whether that was burnout, excessive stress, anxiety, depression and more.

But people were still afraid to talk about it because of feelings of shame or not knowing how to start talking about their emotions. So, I realised that the only way to tackle the stigma and shame of mental health was to speak openly about it and create a space for these conversations.

The final trigger was my motivation to improve a person’s life and enable them to fulfil their potential.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

During the pandemic in 2020, I decided to create my own wellbeing course called The Power Within You. The motivation behind it was to help as many people through the pandemic so they felt they had a community of support. In April 2020, I initially delivered it successfully to friends and family, followed by organisations such as Naked Wines, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Mckinsey.

From the positive feedback I was receiving, I decided to put it onto Skillshare so everyone could benefit from it. But, one day I was contacted by San Francisco-based company Scribd, and they loved the course! So, I agreed to collaborate with them and turn the programme into an audio course, which is now available to over one million subscribers worldwide.

None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?

I completely agree. Mentorship is such a powerful tool for personal and professional growth. Over the years, I have had mentors who have supported me on my journey.

Several years ago, I made a 180-degree turn in my career from working in tech to becoming a leadership coach. I didn’t realise how hard this would be and thought many times of giving up.

But the value I was adding to another person’s life was what kept me going and the support of a few others. My journey took a particularly positive turn at the end of 2021 when I was contacted by a super successful coach who had seen me deliver and speak previously.

She asked me to collaborate with her on a pitch to a top University in the UK, and we won it! We designed and delivered two of their flagship leadership programmes, which enabled me to grow in confidence and give value to hundreds of people. Without her belief in me, this would have never been possible.

According to Mental Health America’s report, over 44 million Americans have a mental health condition. Yet there’s still a stigma about mental illness. Can you share a few reasons you think this is so?

Unfortunately, yes, there is still a lot of stigma and misconceptions about mental health. The main reasons are:

  • Lack of information and knowledge — leading to misinformation and misunderstanding, which the media does not help.
  • Sign of weakness — often, people are unwilling to share their feelings, as they may look down upon.
  • Discrimination — people are afraid they will be discriminated against if they declare they have a mental health issue, which could affect their job role, promotion opportunities, etc.

In your experience, what should a) individuals b) society, and c) the government do to better support people suffering from mental illness?

As individuals, we should spend time in our communities, understanding where suffering comes from. We need to support each other more and have empathy for one another.

Mental illness is still a stigma in society, especially in ethnic minorities. As a society, we have more work to do to become non-judgemental, be curious, ask questions and come together to provide support and break the stigma.

Finally, mental health is still significantly underfunded and under-resourced, particularly in low-income countries. Also, there is a gap to address within diverse communities where so much more work is needed to ensure mental health services are accessible and equitable.

That is why government must invest more money and resources to tackle this epidemic of mental illness. Private organisations also have the responsibility to set aside budgets and time so their employees have the proper support they need.

What are your 5 strategies you use to promote your own well-being and mental wellness? Can you please give a story or example for each?

My five strategies that help me maintain and build mental wellness are:

  • Exercise. I ensure I do a variety of activities to keep me fit and healthy, both physically and mentally. This includes swimming, strength training, tennis, pilates and Zumba!
  • Diet. I try to include 25–30 types of vegetables, fruits, salads and legumes every week, as diet is closely linked to mental well-being. So, it’s important that my diet reflects wellness.
  • Mindfulness. I do a mix of meditation and bird watching/photography, which gets me into a flow state and stops my thoughts so I’m just focusing on one thing.
  • Gratitude. I spend a few minutes a day remembering what I am grateful for, which sets up my day beautifully.
  • Spending time with loved ones. I have a wonderful network of friends and family who are supportive and open, and we are able to talk our issues through.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a mental health champion?

For books, I would say that my favourite are The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, The Myth of Normal by Gabor Maté, and A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.

My main go-to resources for mental health are Better Up (https://www.betterup.com/) and Greater Good Magazine (https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/). They are definitely worth checking out!

Finally, the podcasts I would recommend — besides The Power Within You — are Feel Better, Live More With Dr. Chatterjee, The Happiness Lab and We Can Do Hard Things.

If you could tell other people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

One of the most profound questions you can ask someone is ‘How are you really feeling?’ This can open up conversations about our mental well-being and break the stigma of issues that we have all gone through.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can listen to The Power Within You Podcast and follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn. Also, you can visit my website, The Leader In You, for any information about my leadership and wellbeing coaching, and do feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. I will be happy to hear from any of your readers!

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

About the Interviewer: Inspired by the father of PR, Edward Bernays (who was also Sigmund Freud’s nephew), Michelle Tennant Nicholson researches marketing, mental injury, and what it takes for optimal human development. An award-winning writer and publicist, she’s seen PR transition from typewriters to Twitter. Michelle co-founded WasabiPublicity.com

--

--

Michelle Tennant Nicholson
Authority Magazine

A “Givefluencer,” Chief Creative Officer of Wasabi Publicity, Inc., Creator of WriteTheTrauma.org