3 Sep, 2020
Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder are just a few health issues that people deal with. Most people who experience mental health problems recover fully, especially if they get help early on. Many people with mental health problems face stigma and discrimination not just from society, but also from families, friends and employers due to lack of awareness. Kiran Makhijani, a Psychologist, Counselor and Psychotherapist discusses why approaching a mental health professional is important and debunks the discrimination associated with it in seeking help from a mental health expert. Makhijani is proficient in intensive Clinical Therapy, Clinical Hypnotherapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) and provides Psychotherapy using an eclectic approach to tailor therapy as per the needs of her clients.
Help is crucial
If a person undergoing depression is completely resistant, then a loved one can consult a mental health professional. Based on the discussion of any visible signs of depression, anxiety or stress and the environment around the person, the loved one can gently guide the person to seek professional help without any emotional drama, coercion, pushing away the person or unknowingly shutting them off. We have to be sensitive and empathetic towards the person and make him/ her feel comfortable.
The role of a psychotherapist
Once the patient visits a mental health professional, he/ she may still have barriers to open up to the mental health professional. Makhijani states that as a mental health professional, the patients are made to feel comfortable and provided the needed encouragement to express what is bothering them and what exactly they are going through. The patients are also helped with hand holding in between appointments for session. Makhijani states that a lot of people have this concept that once they visit a mental health professional for a session, they do not need to visit again. However, this is a myth and the required sessions should be taken. The more connected a person is to a mental health professional, the faster the person can come out of depression.
We need to get over the stigma
When we have fever, we visit a doctor so that we can recover faster with the help of medicines. If somebody has an ailment like cancer, the person will visit an oncologist. Similarly, when a person has any mental health issue, he/ she should consult a mental health professional. Makhijani encourages her clients to indulge in daily self-care routines when they are stressed, anxious or feel depressed. She also helps them chart out a new routine. She advises them to indulge in hobbies like listening to music, singing, dancing or even a basic activity like leisurely having a cup of tea. In cases of suicidal tendencies, it is imperative to consult a psychiatrist along with a counsellor or a psychologist. In extreme cases, hospitalisation is advised along with counselling and psychotherapy to get the right treatment. Consulting a mental health professional should be encouraged.
Empathy is what a person needs
It is important to have empathy towards a person who is having any mental health issues. It is advised not to give sympathy since the person doesn’t need sympathy but empathy to raise the morale and reinstill faith in oneself. There should not be any fear of judgment or what society will think in order to seek help from friends and family. All of us have gone through depressed phases in our lives. It’s okay not to be okay and we all need support from time to time.
Corporates need to encourage mental health programmes
Makhijani states that corporates are always in a rat race and there is also politics involved to make gains out of other people’s problems. Regular mental health programmes should be conducted and the employees should be sensitised in dealing with mental health issues. These initiatives should be taken up by people in the hierarchy to cater to the mental health care of the workforce. Employees always hesitate to approach their managers over any personal problems due to fear of judgment and fear of losing a job. This needs to change and a friendly environment of accommodating people with mental health issues needs to be created.
Success stories of clients
Makhijani’s client was diagnosed with Covid-19 and he was extremely depressed. He felt ostracised by known people and he was also worried about his family members health, in case they would contract the infection. The medical doctors attending him had advised to undergo psychotherapy. After sessions with Makhijani, the patient has recovered completely and resumed a normal life. Another middle-aged client was undergoing clinical depression. It went undiagnosed since his early adulthood. There were a lot of conflicts in his marriage and professional life due to clinical depression. The client had switched multiple jobs in a short duration. After many psychotherapy sessions with Makhijani for around 4 months, things began to change slowly. He found a new job. His wife also used to take counselling sessions to emotionally support him. He still undergoes therapy as advised but his life has changed a lot for the better. Makhijani states that group sessions are also helpful for individuals coping with mental illnesses. They need to know that they are not alone. Similar sessions for caregivers also work well. It helps people explore different coping strategies too. When people share their experiences of overcoming depression, it boosts the morale of those fighting a good fight. It sets am example for them that they too can get over the phase by seeking professional help early on.
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