A campaign, with three short films, to fight the COVID-19 blues

‘Do Not Bottle Up; Express’, ‘Scores Don’t Matter, Effort Does’ and ‘Cut The Fatigue: Take a Break’ are all films that address the emotional toll of the pandemic

Do Not Bottle Up; Express; Scores Don’t Matter, Effort Does and Cut The Fatigue: Take a Break… these are “very short” films released recently by educator and social entrepreneur Aparna Viswanathan, the founder of Zocio. All of them address the emotional problems arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown. Aparna, founder of Zocio, a company that aims to empower individuals through curated social intelligence workshops,. has launched ‘Together We Can’, a campaign that addresses ways to reach out in cases of emotional distress. Edited excerpts from an interview:

Tell us about the campaign.

The pandemic has been a very challenging time for everyone; the company has been receiving a lot of calls for help. But we have our limitations. Unless it reaches the public as a social initiative, the message won’t be out there. That’s why we came up with the campaign and created the films. On ground, we are forming clusters and groups as support systems for people.

The films have no images, only sounds. Why?

No visuals in a visual medium give the audience imaginative power to interpret an idea through analogies. For example, a familiar sound like the opening of a bottle can represent venting. We feel this is far more powerful.

How do you help people use the concept of social intelligence?

Social-emotional intelligence is one’s capacity to know oneself and to deal with others in a given social setting. It basically talks about interpersonal relationships. Social intelligence is about the four Cs: Courage, Conviction, Compassion and Commonsense. Compassion is the most important factor, and the one we emphasise.

You began with programmes for children and have now moved on to adults…

UNICEF has mandated some necessary life skills to be imparted to children in their growing years. Unfortunately, it took a pandemic for us to understand that social-emotional learning should be a mandatory stream.

Ideally, it should start with children. We have workshops and programmes for kids from 10 years and above. Acceptance has been minimal because schools always come up with the excuse of limited time. But the pandemic has led to us being flooded with requests. So Zocio should not be limited to schools and colleges. That’s why we are launching a public campaign.

Is this for anybody in need of mental well being?

We have centres in Dehradun, Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram and Bengaluru and a presence in West Asia. It is not a community initiative yet. We run programmes parallel to academics. We are inviting stakeholders from private and public spaces to take it to larger spaces where the intention is to help each other.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the next pandemic will be from anxiety. Until we create an eco-system of good practices that lead to healthier living spaces, we are not going to better our situation. Zocio is identifying gaps where we can engage with society and reach out to prevent suicidal thoughts or distress from job loss and such. People have to come together to fight the emotional crisis caused by COVID-19.