Mental health is a topic that remains largely ignored and brushed aside by society at large. Most people are unaware that depression is the second leading cause of disability worldwide, second only to back pain. Mental health problems such as depression can have far reaching consequences and affect people’s ability to carry out basic functions like cooking, eating and even getting out of bed in the morning. The tragic incident of the severely depressed pilot of the Germanwings Airline, deliberately ploughing his aircraft into the Alps and plunging 150 people to their deaths is a grim reminder of the harsh reality of mental illness.
While mental health problems like depression and anxiety certainly warrant attention, it is a myth that only people suffering from a mental health condition should seek professional help. Counsellors offer help in coping with all aspects of life such as stress over a job, relationship problems, death of loved one, substance abuse and eating disorders among others.
Just like people undergo a general health check-up at regular intervals, undergoing a mental health check-up should also be the norm. Counselling enhances the daily life of people by equipping them to handle their day to day problems better and increasing their self esteem and sense of self worth.
Take the case of 26 year old marketing executive, Anita :-Being a high achiever, right from school to her workplace, she was surprised when she started experiencing feeling of self doubt with regard to her work. She found herself missing deadlines, her concentration suffered and she was increasingly on edge and irritable. On her friend’s advice, she decided to seek counselling. Talking to the counsellor, Anita realized her excessively high standards of perfection and the enormous pressure she put on herself had been giving her sleepless nights. She learnt to ease the pressure on herself by making smaller goals. The therapist helped her work through her fear of failure and accept that some things are out of her control She further learnt to stop being controlling & delegate tasks to her co-workers instead. This helped her focus & prioritize her tasks, thereby increasing her work performanceAnita wasn’t suffering from any serious mental disorder. However, professional counselling helped build her resilience and strengthen her coping mechanism.
Professional counselling is especially relevant in today’s fast paced world where people are constantly rushing against time and trying to juggle multiple roles, both in the family and work domain. With the advent of technology and social media, people are finding it increasingly difficult to switch off from work even when away from their workplace.
The blurring of work and family life takes a toll on the mind. We are living in an age where family ties are loosening and younger people are no longer afraid to move to different cities and even countries to explore new opportunities, leaving their friends and family behind. Adjusting to a whole new world often takes a toll on their mental health.
It is a common myth that only children are in need of and benefit from counselling. In reality, counselling is just as important for adults as the stresses of life only increases as we age. As people get older, their responsibilities multiply and they often find themselves questioning their life choices. Talking to a counsellor helps people explore their feelings and understand the ways in which their emotions affects their actions and behavior.
The world is slowly waking up to the need for professional mental health support. Most fortune 500 companies provide free and confidential counselling service to their employees. Corporate employees, school children, sportspersons and physically ill patients are all being offered mental health support.
Opening up about issues or problems to others can be a liberating experience. Research shows that people find it easier to discuss their problems with professionals rather than family members/friends. The confidentiality, unconditional acceptance of the client and the non-judgmental attitude adopted by professional counsellors may play a role in that.