On Discovering Psychology
My tryst with counselling started when I was in school. Since a close relative had ADHD, my mother and I accompanied him for visits to a psychiatrist. Often, I’d read the books laid out at the waiting area and found the concept of counseling, positive parenting and mental health extremely intriguing. As a result I majored in Psychology in school and college.
After completing my masters in Psychology, I joined Jeevan Aastha Helpline for Suicide Prevention, an initiative under Gujarat Police, as a senior counsellor. I was not taught about the subject in college, but it was the right step in order to understand someone who sees death as the only answer.
On Counselling and Suicide Prevention
The challenges with telephonic counselling are unique. Since I couldn’t see the person I was speaking with, I only had to judge from their voice tone. Many teenagers who were wronged in a romantic relationship, called. Since dating is frowned upon, teens do not share about their anxieties with parents or other adults. As a result, they only have people of their age to understand their problems. A teenager’s concept of love is quite half baked.
Similarly, domestic violence needs to take centre stage as a massive propellant for depression and suicidal tendencies, but doesn’t. I remember being on a call with a lady who she cried her heart out, like it was the end. Sometimes, it is a challenge to maintain objectivity as a counsellor in the face of such pain and helplessness. I only wonder how things must be for thousands of women today, being locked in with their abuser.
If Indians harness their sense of strong family ties and communities, we have the potential solve several mental health issues. Communication is the key. If parents/adults speak with youngsters, if neighbours and others report cases of abuse and violence, we can dramatically change the demographic of mental illness.
As for me, I am pursuing a PhD in the subject right now. This is what I wish to do for the rest of my life. I will continue to work on counselling and suicide prevention No one must live through the tragedy of not being heard and ending it all.
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