Earlier this week, ‘Jiyo Parsi’ – a GoI undertaking, which supports our community’s efforts in arresting the declining Parsi population and aids in its increase – reinforced its efforts by launching an excellent and much needed counselling and guidance campaign, via a Support Helpline, publicized appropriately under the title, ‘WE HEAR YOU!’ This Helpline has been launched to help all those in need, during one of the darkest periods of our times, as humanity struggles against the onslaught of the deadly Coronavirus pandemic, which continues to claim lives and livelihoods of people across the world, taking a massive toll also on one’s mental peace and stability.
arsi Times thanks the expert JP Counsellors – Dr. Katy Gandevia, Pearl Mistry and Shamla Anand – for taking the time to answer a few pertinent questions, for the benefit of our community:
PT: Why does it become even more mandatory to reach out for help during these current times of stress?
JP Counsellors: Every individual has his/her threshold to handle stress and pressure. During normal times too some individuals find it difficult to handle the daily stressors and face mental health challenges. Help, in the form of counselling, therapy, rehabilitation or medication, is needed by such individuals to help them cope better with the challenges they face. In India and other countries, mental health challenges are still a taboo topic, which most are not ready to speak only about, due to which, people struggling with these issues are very hesitant to reach out for help that is readily available.
However, during times like these, when the whole world is facing a crisis, the need to reach out for help, especially counselling is extremely important. Each and every individual today is having to handle emotions like uncertainty, insecurity, fear of illness/death, loss of income and depression. In a family, the younger generation depends on elders for guidance and support, but right now, the parents / elders themselves are facing a lot of mental trauma and pressure. There is lack of a support system within the family in many cases. The need for counselling, and having someone who listens without judging or criticizing, is very high during times like these. Just a listening ear can do wonders and help the person cope with the given situation. Stay home and stay safe is important, but stay sane is equally important!
PT: Women undergoing the ART procedures or having fertility issues usually end up losing a lot of self-confidence, and if the procedure takes longer than expected, they can also get depressed. How does counselling help in such situations?
JP Counsellors: Women undergoing these procedures are there due to the inability to conceive normally – this by itself can play havoc with their self-esteem and security. To some extent, it has also been known to cause disturbances in marital relationships. Those undergoing ART procedures/fertility issues sometimes do feel depressed as their self-confidence is affected, especially if they already have self-esteem issues in the past. There’s a lot of fear and anxiety and the need for someone to be there for her with an empathetic ear. Counselling helps by giving them support via active listening which helps them voice their feeling of inadequacy, their fears about the side-effects of treatments and also addresses self-image issues.
Counselling reduces the level of stress by helping the individual understand the procedure and explaining the process and also keeping the person abreast of all that it entails… basically, a comforting, hand-holding exercise through this period of strain and stress.
Couples are also counselled together, which further strengthens their relationship by empowering them to face the challenges together. The counsellor shares success stories of other couples (confidentiality is always maintained) who’ve successfully had babies through ART. This boosts their confidence and encourages them to continue treatment and fulfil their dreams of parenthood.
PT: As our Community is blessed with a good number of senior citizens, how does Counselling for the Elderly help? How can we, as a community and especially the youth, be supportive?
JP Counsellors: Our community does have its fair share of single seniors and the only way to handle that is by being there for them, whenever needed. Counselling is of great help to our elderly by helping them fight off loneliness and/or resignation because they feel they have someone to talk to and who listens to them attentively. Sometimes, this single-handedly gives them something to look forward to, a reason to live!
The youth could dedicate some of their time to them, just being with them – talking or playing games, or running errands, and also being polite with elders in their own families. It would be great if we could have something on the lines of a Senior Center, where they are involved in pursuing some kind of hobby or area of interest, to keep them mentally occupied. The Center could operate a few times a week, offering all kinds of activities. It will help greatly if these Centers are established in the Baug/Colony itself, as commute will be reduced to a minimum. Counselling, as and when required, will be available. The youth can very much be a part of the activities and help on a more personal level by spending quality time with them, arranging day trip and other in-house activities, etc.
Most of our seniors are gifted and work well with their hands – sewing, baking, handicraft, etc. We could even connect with small-scale industries and get them gainfully employed – this will have them enjoy their day and even earn a bit! More importantly, being occupied thus will take care of their loneliness and instil a sense of self-worth!
PT: In the current scenario, where all schools are shut, children are being home-schooled by parents. A number of parents are unable to manage this, as some children simply won’t listen or are rebellious. Also, how does counselling help parents who are raising a differently-abled child?
JP Counsellors: A rebellious child is someone just asking for attention. Spending some time with the child and listening/talking with him/her will help a lot in calming the child’s sense of anxiety and angst it is going through.
Of course, there are other factors that could be responsible for the child’s rebellion or inability to listen – it could be Sensory Perception Disorder (SPD), which does not allow a child to process the information in the ‘right’ manner. In such cases, a thorough psychiatric evaluation is needed, after which counselling can be done. Again, here it is important to cater to the parents and explain to them how this can be dealt with and that it is not something that cannot be rectified. The need for developing coping mechanisms will go a long way in dealing with SPD. Other factors can also include Autism, ADHD/ADD, anxiety.
It is crucial to take parents into total confidence regarding a differently-abled child. Just because your child does not seem ‘normal’ does not mean he’s incapable of doing anything. He/she may take more time or do it differently, compared to the rest. A child can be mentally different or physically different. It is important for the parents to understand their child’s predicament and the different ways it can be effectively handled and treated. There are a lot of centers which cater to differently-abled children. Having a data-bank readily available with the counsellor will initiate action. Counsellor stay constantly in touch with parents providing periodic updates on the progress of the child and keeping them updated about new trends and happenings.
You need to be calm yourself, talk to other parents undergoing similar situation and read up on useful information through books, Google, etc, about handling differently abled children. Join a support group online, if possible; develop hobbies that you enjoy and remember, that every storm passes.
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