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Paper Napkin Mental Health Challenge #1: Strengths

There is an incredible man named Vikram Patel who realized that there are not (and may never be) enough mental health experts in India to serve the people who need help. So what did he do? Vikram launched an organization that trains people in cognitive behavioral techniques. After a three-week workshop, the trainees go out to their community to help those suffering from depression, alcoholism, and other disorders. In short, Vikram creates lay counselors. Two recent studies show his efforts are working.

The problem Vikram addresses–a lack of accessible mental health care–is not limited to India, nor does it exclude our children. Here’s the scary truth: A World Health Organization report predicts that by 2030, depression will be the leading cause disease burden worldwide.

While I believe deeply in the value of professional therapy, I know it will take much more for us to effectively combat the proliferation of mental health disorders and high stress in this next generation. We need more of us (parents, teachers, and caring individuals) to learn research-based skills of well-being and pass them onto others, especially our children.

To this end, GoZen! is launching several initiatives, the first of which is called Paper Napkin Mental Health. Every week we’ll be putting out a simple mental health challenge that can be completed with nothing more than a paper napkin and a pen. For those of you who dig the science, we’ll also provide the research to back up the technique. What we ask from you is to teach the technique to one other person and then ask that person to do the same. Let’s see if we can ignite a contagion of well-being.

Paper Napkin Mental Health Challenge #1

What? Identify and apply your strengths when solving a problem.

How? Trace your hand on a napkin or piece of paper. Write down five of your greatest strengths – one on each finger. If you’re helping your kids, you can ask them what their greatest strengths are and help your kids write them out. Optional Bonus: Write the strengths on your real hand!

Then what? Next time you face an adversity, pick a finger. Use your strength to begin resolving your problem.

The challenge! Do this yourself and then teach one other person. When you’re done, ask that person to do the same.

Paper Napkin Mental Health

The science in a nutshell: The research is clear: identifying and applying character strengths increases life satisfaction, well-being, and even academic performance. Here are more than 150 research findings.


Have an anxious child? Join us at GoZen! to learn research-based skills to help your kids kick anxiety to the curb!

Paper Napkin Mental Health Challenge #1: Strengths

Renee Jain, MAPP

Renee Jain is an award-winning tech entrepreneur turned speaker and certified life coach. She also holds a masters in applied positive psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. Renee specializes in cultivating skills of resilience in both adults and children. Her passion is taking research-based concepts and transforming them into fun and digestible learning modules. For children, she has created one-of-a-kind anxiety relief programs at GoZen! delivered via engaging animated shorts.

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APA Reference
Jain, R. (2017). Paper Napkin Mental Health Challenge #1: Strengths. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 26, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Nov 2017
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