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Sunday, April 21 2024
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Health & Lifestyle

The social taboo of seeking mental health advice

mental health
Photo Credit : IANS

New Delhi: The ever-increasing importance of psychological issues and wellness has been a gigantic wave in the recent past and it is expected to rise massively. The concept of mental health has been revolutionary over the years especially after the COVID pandemic era. Mental health is the emperor in today’s world. However, this wasn’t the case a few years back and even now we have a long way to go. The stigma around this profession has been deep-rooted in the psyche of mankind.

As from generations, people have been ingrained with this irrational, intense preconceived prejudice, stigmatising beliefs and imbibed the fear of being negatively evaluated, judged and looked down upon by other members of society. Henceforth, starting a conversation or seeking help or even helping oneself is compromised, and staying oblivious, stuck and making the condition worse becomes the preferred choice/priority.

When people start acting out on these values with this kind of biased attitude, the consequence is a “societal blemish” which is as contagious as common cold. The problem never subsides; it still exists, in fact, it has aggravated only because of the prolonged ignorance.

It still is very common that if an individual has any health-related disease, for example – a viral fever or any other bodily infection, he/she will consult a doctor and get treated after a check-up. However, when it comes to psychological issues/illnesses of any sort, the first reaction is the lack of acknowledgement or awareness about the existing problem followed by the lack of acceptance (even if there is acknowledgement) and lastly if by any chance these above two conditions prevail – no steps are taken further for the improvement of the problem or for betterment. It seems unfair because the individual is denying his/her own reality and doing injustice to themselves.

It’s time that we break the myths and taboos surrounding psychological help and start a conversation about the concerns, issues and battles that we’ve been fighting silently. Prioritising mental health should become the new normal.

With the alarming increase in mental health needs of the population, it becomes the responsibility of psychologists and other professionals of the same field to psych educate as many people as they can regarding the significance, demand and supply of mental well-being and overall quality of a healthy lifestyle.

Emerging technology-based solutions including telephone/audio counselling and video/Web conferencing tools; self-directed, Web-based, and desktop computer-based therapeutic tools; Web-based text communication (e.g., email, chat, forums); and mobile technologies can help break down barriers to accessing mental healthcare, by providing information, accessible and private therapy services, and addressing some of the key mental health stressors people face, such as harassment, abuse, work pressure, family problems or other mental health disorders.

The Internet offers several avenues for augmenting the health care services in clinical settings. Remote video consultation, for example, could give consumers greater access to skilled health professionals regardless of geographic proximity. The use of the Internet to transfer medical images to expert interpreters could accelerate and improve the diagnostic process as well as reduce costs. Virtual reality tools could help therapists plan effective intervention techniques and improve their use of information during procedures. The use of the Internet to access and assemble health records could give a provider improved information for treatment purposes, regardless of whether the patient is a regular client or a stranger.

Furthermore, telehealth platforms, which include instant messaging or video calling, already are proving useful in primary care settings for helping counselors reach clients. Telephone-based interventions have been shown to have considerable clinical utility in areas such as the behavioural management of chronic pain (Naylor, Keefe, Brigidi, Naud, &Helzer, 2008) and as part of posttreatment smoking cessation efforts (Regan, Reyen, Lockhart, Richards, & Rigotti, 2011). As telephones, including mobile phones, have been a routine part of life for so long, research typically shows that both clinicians and clients are comfortable with telephone-based counselling.

Indeed, many clients consider telephone counselling a satisfying and helpful process (Reese, Conoley, & Brossart, 2002, 2006). Additionally, some evidence suggests that clients may participate in counselling sessions more if they are offered in a distance telehealth environment as an alternative or an adjunct to in-person settings (Day & Schneider, 2002).

In conclusion, significant developments in technology continue to emerge and offer great promise for integration into behavioural health services. This is an exciting time for harnessing technology to increase the quality and reach of effective behavioural health services, but a carefully planned approach for embracing TAC is essential to grant behavioural health service providers and program administrators-as well as their clients-the greatest benefit.

By Dr Ashna Gupta

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