Mental Health & The MBA: An Indian ISB Graduate Fights To Achieve His Dreams

Tehlan, third from left, with the Delhi-based team from Heal.Expert. Courtesy photo


Wanting to develop his business skills after a decade of working as an engineer, Tehlan was determined to get the highest GMAT score possible to improve his chances of getting into ISB. Although he was interested in going to an American Ivy league college, he wanted to study locally so that he would be in less debt and could create an Indian network.

He took the test three times, with 710 as his best score. “Since recovering from schizophrenia, I’m a little behind in reaching my maximum potential. I settled with my 710 score,” he says.

To his surprise, he gained acceptance to the ISB MBA program at the Hyderabad campus despite having a lower score than he’d hoped for. “Getting into ISB was the hardest thing I’ve ever done after recovering from schizophrenia,” he explains.


Tehlan says that when he started his MBA at ISB, his confidence was low due to everything he’d gone through in the past year. He also felt extremely introverted.

However, eight months into the program, his confidence had grown — so much so that he was a candidate for student body president. “Throughout the year, I easily shook hands with over 300 people. Now, I’m still in touch with 100 people,” he says.

When it came to sharing about his experience with schizophrenia, he said he did it for the people who are affected by the stigma of mental health every day of their lives. “Nobody would have known that I had schizophrenia if I didn’t tell them,” he says. “I figured that at this point at ISB, I’d achieved everything I wanted to achieve. I asked myself, ‘what do I have to lose?’ I realized that it wasn’t about me anymore, it was about so many others who don’t have the voice or can’t speak about their issues.”

He says that at ISB, he never faced any stigma related to mental health. “I was so scared to tell my classmates. After I did, I turned my video off and cried for an hour. But I received so much support,” he says.

Vishwadeep Tehlan with friends and colleagues. Courtesy images


Surprised by the amount of encouragement he received from his classmates after revealing that he has schizophrenia, his vision for Heal.Expert came together.

Heal.Expert uses technology-based solutions to strengthen the mental healthcare ecosystem. By using AI, blockchain, and IOT, Heal.Expert helps to treat clinical disorders, increase access to preventative healthcare, and improve mental healthcare workers’ efficiency through access to technology. “Our aim is to be a one-stop solution for all mental health needs,” he says.

So far, Tehlan has hired 30 interns and three business partners. By working with mental health thought leaders and experts across the world, Tehlan says that Heal.Expert will fight to eradicate the stigma and improve emotional wellbeing in schools, colleges, workplaces, and families. “Although our roots will be in India, we’re aiming to scale globally and focus on overall impact. Our approach is collaborative rather than competitive.”

Tehlan says that although the initiative is a for-profit venture, impact is at its heart. “In order to create long term, sustainable impact, we need a sound, profitable business model. This is something I got encouragement about from my ISB mentors and peers,” he says.

Soon, he and his three business partners will be seeking funding from philanthropic and impact investors. “I’m currently scouting some B2B deals so that I can get some social validation before I reach out to investors. I’ll seek investors who are in it for the value, not for the money,” he explains.

He says that ISB supported this initiative immensely. His mentors, professors, and classmates were willing to help him create his business plan and understand how to tackle problems and approach investors.


Tehlan says that although he didn’t receive any mental health stigma at business school, that’s not the case for everyone. “There’s so much parental pressure to succeed. That’s how India operates,” he says.

He explains that not only is there pressure to do well in school, there’s pressure to pursue careers in business and engineering.

Before getting into ISB, Tehlan had a background in engineering. In 2010, he graduated from the Delhi College of Engineering. “In India, you succeed by doing engineering and business. Other fields are largely ignored.”

According to Tehlan, these careers are praised the most in Indian society. Despite the desperate need for people to fill roles in psychology, this field is seen as less valuable “Engineers and business people do well in India. But those in psychology don’t make a high salary,” he says. “We need to make psychology jobs more attractive because of how impactful they can be.”


While it was Tehlan’s choice to share his diagnosis with his classmates, he encourages each person with a mental illness to decide what’s best for them. “You don’t have to open up,” he says. “Think about yourself.”

He says before deciding whether or not to tell others about your mental health, people should remain focused on healing. “First, recover biologically. That is the first battle. Then, once you’re at the stage that you can take care of yourself, confide in the people closest to you,” he suggests.

While it’s easy for people to get overwhelmed about how to get their life back on track after dealing with mental illness, Tehlan advises that people take a similar approach as him by taking everything step by step. “You have to overcome your denial and accept the disease that you have. Cooperate with the doctors. Then, secure a job. It doesn’t matter what job you get.”

He explains that besides pursuing his business and helping people to recover from mental illness like him, his next chapter in life will be to start a family. “I have to take my own advice and remember to approach everything step by step,” he says.

Vishwadeep Tahlan’s ISB graduation pictures. Courtesy images


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