Mental health has been marginalised and stigmatised by the society for as long as we can remember. But still, there have been campaigns to create awareness about the importance of mental health and why it is as important and crucial as physical health. The longer one waits to seek help when facing mental health issues, the harder it will become for them to break the patterns and make changes. Being human is indeed hard as we have so many emotions to keep a check on and as we lose grip on them, it effects our well-being. Fortunately, with time the stigma attached to the mental health is being lifted gradually and people are understanding the importance of seeking help and guidance when facing the same. Accepting that you need help and opening up about the mental health issue is the first and the hardest step that needs to be taken when you’re dealing with mental illness.
Founder of Psycho-wellness Center in Delhi and mentor at Talktoangel, Dr.R.K. Suri is a trained professional chartered clinical psychologist, having more than 35 years of experience in hypnotherapy, psychoanalysis, neuropsychological assessment, career counselling, relationship management. He has provided career counselling to more than 20000 students in more than 15 countries. Let’s get a better understanding of what Psycho-wellness is and the importance of seeking help when dealing with mental health issues.
Explaining what Psycho-wellness is, Dr Suri said, “Psycho means psychology and wellness means the feeling of being well. According to us, Psycho-wellness means the complete wellness and mental health of a person i.e., physical, economical, social, psychological and spiritual well-being. This is in-line with the WHO’s perspective of the health. WHO states that health is not merely absence of disease or infirmity but complete physical, social, psychological and spiritual well-being. And in Psycho-wellness centre, when we conceived, we included the economical aspect too as an important element in mental health of an individual. The Psycho-wellness centre predominantly is a clinic setup, meant for the psychological and complete wellness in an individual. We provide them support in every possible way to make them happy as that it what matters at the end of the day. And we aim at providing that happiness to an individual. We had started with that objective and over the years, we thought of helping them come out of the mental health problems and find an angel in themselves. My son came up with an idea of an online platform, TalkToAngel.com where we provide mental health care services. We are aiming at 25,000 by the end of this month and during the pandemic, we have already provided free services to 5,000 people. Since the unlock phase begun, we provided services on a discounted fee. We are also reaching out to the companies for the wellness programmes and educational institutions for student mental health.”
While you have worked in 15 countries, what do you think is the major difference in the
approach to mental health in Indians as compared to other countries? Do you think Indians need to be more aware and serious when it comes to mental health?
“Mental health is a stigma, not only in India but globally too. Prior to Britishers’ presence in India, the mental illness had no mention in the traditional healthcare system. Because the family and the society was there to take care of the supportive, preventive and curative aspect. So the metal illness was not a touchy subject till the time Britishers came. When the Britishers came, they had started the first mental health hospital in Ranchi. Family is the support system in terms of making a person good at psychological balance. Prior to 1700 or so, mental illness wasn’t even a point of talking in the Indian system. Then came the acts in regard to mental health. Worldwide, over the years, there has been seamless changes in terms of the thought process and advocacy. There’s change in the mindset that mental health can happen to anyone. During the COVID, most people get mentally and psychologically impacted due to the pandemic and as a result, now there’s a good amount of awareness coming in the society. The coaching and mentoring by a good psychologist is important. TalkToAngel strive to provide mental health coaching to people to become completely well.”
What is the difference between counselling and therapy?
“Counselling is a non-directive approach while therapy is a directive approach. In layman’s words, counselling is predominantly having a client to have their own thinking through introspection to do things that they would be able to do. Counsellor just acts as a facilitator to sharpen the mental, emotional and thinking blockages in the client’s mind. Counselling is a generic term for the emotional, thinking issues and psychological challenges. On the other hand, therapy is a directive one, where patients with psychological issues, disorder or illness are treated. The disorders could be bipolar, OCD, anxiety, panic, phobias and schizophrenia. The therapist take them into a structured path.”
Can counselling or therapy resolve a problem or medication is necessary?
“It depends on the issue one is facing. If there’re biochemical changes resulting in the difference in an individual’s behaviour, emotions or thoughts, then there’s a need of medication. If the chemical formations or productions isn’t adequate, then it needs medication. Most of the psychological issues can be resolved by counselling or therapy.”
On mental health myths
“Indeed there are different myths related to mental health. Like ones suffering from mental health can never be treated and it is a lifetime thing – this is not true! Mental illness is incurable – myth again! All psychological issues are treatable. Referring to people dealing with mental issues, psycho, is a very stigmatised approach in a society which needs modification. As a professional, we won’t promote pseudo approaches to mental health treatments. We need to eradicate myths from the mindset of people. Taking help is very important and isn’t a stigma. If someone who’s dealing with mental health, they must take professional help.”
“Statistically, females are more vulnerable than men. It’s not proven why but because women are more emotional and it could be the reason for the same. But when it comes to coping up with the issues, women are also better than men. So, there’s no specific reason why women are more vulnerable and it depends on mental health issues as it cannot be generalised.”
Effectiveness of talk therapy
“Talk therapy or psychotherapy aims with resolving your issues. Opening up about your
issues and seeking help is of utmost importance and majority of the problems can be
resolved easily in the talk therapy and modifying the behaviour. Avoiding someone because of issues or behaviour becomes an unhealthy behaviour. Sometimes when we aren’t able to segregate healthy and unhealthy behaviour, talk therapy helps us in doing that. If there aren’t any biological, organic or biochemical factors associated with it, then talk therapy would need interventions accordingly. During the lockdown, social distancing doesn’t mean you cannot talk to people. In fact, you need to talk to them even more. Socialisation is a very important element. And so it being positive.”
On people being judgemental about mental health
“People are judgemental. We always judge others. But being judgemental isn’t wrong. For instance, in interview selections, the jury has to judge people on the basis JD. But that doesn’t mean the ones who aren’t selected are not excellent. They can be in other domains but didn’t match the job profile. Like once Amitabh Bachchan had interviewed for the army selection board and had gotten rejected. Then he had found his passion in acting and made his career. So, being judgemental on someone’s private problems is the main problem. That needs to be put across and reduce the stigma. Mental health is treatable and one shouldn’t be judgemental about it. Having a support system is essential.”
How the idea of TalkToAngel came up?
“Despite being confined at home, one day when my son had taken the dog for a walk, he tested positive with the virus. It was then when he had understood the challenges people are facing during isolation and then he not only fought back, he also worked passionately to make a platform for the ones, who are suffering through the same. We reached out to Delhi police, doctors, media and frontline warriors to provide them support and motivated them.”
On increase in number of suicide cases
“Termination of life should not be in the hand of a person. Anyone dealing with depression, mental illness, hopelessness and worthlessness should work on their positivities. Understand and analyse what you have and focus on the optimum utilisation of it. Failing is a learning. It makes you work hard again. Knowledge is an important tool. Every human being is knowledgable if they focus on the positives and work on it. If you are facing any challenges, believe that time will change. There are four pillars of life – purpose, positivity, passion and perseverance.”
On why people hesitate on consulting a psychologist
“According to me, why people hesitate consulting a psychologist is because they aren’t aware of the difference between psychiatrist, psychologist and clinical psychologist. That’s one thing. They hesitate because they feel psychologist is someone, who isn’t mentally stable. Then they think that the mental health treatment is about electric shocks. And the reason behind it is media. What they need to understand is that psychiatrist is the one who has a degree in medicine and then they specialise in psychology where they try to understand mind’s behaviour and then try to focus more on the medicine which are essential to reduce the negative thoughts and behaviour. Clinical psychologist is someone who had trained under mental hospitals and have studied psychopharmacology. They are registered under the Rehabilitation Council of India. Psychologist is the one who is not well-defined in India. Professionally, masters in psychology from any recognised university makes a person a psychologist.”
“In the end, I would like to say that we need to create more awareness that mental health is treatable, controllable and manageable. I won’t say curable because it needs to be identified if its curable or not. We need to promote all psychological issues are treatable, controllable and manageable.”
Better late than never! Even though the first step is the hardest of all, don’t feel ashamed in seeking help for the mental health issues you’re facing and let go of the thought of ‘log kyakahenge’. Your happiness and wellbeing must be of utmost importance and your priority. Talk to someone, vent it out. Trust us, you’ll feel better!