Noreen Choudhri is a Clinical Psychologist with 7+ years of experience. She helps people learn to cope more effectively with mental health concerns and plans interventions to address those concerns. She has been a Consultant Clinical Psychologist for the National Mental Health Programme in Rajasthan, worked at the Psychiatric Centre, SMS Hospital in Jaipur. Additionally, she has worked in association with various reputed hospitals such as the Government Paediatric Department, J.K. Lone Hospital and institutes in Jaipur and is currently a consulting counsellor at Infosys, Jaipur.
What are the most common mental health concerns you see in today’s world?
“A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed that 7.5 per cent of the Indian population suffers from some form of mental disorder and predicts that by 2020 roughly 20 per cent of India will suffer from mental illnesses. Autism, ADHD, intellectual disability, behavioural difficulties in childhood, adult conditions such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, psychosis or dementia in old age are all commonly found psychiatric illness in our population. The current pandemic has also resulted in amplifying cases of anxiety, depression, suicide, other stress related disorders and substance abuse in adults and behavioural problems in children.”
At what point should someone seek the help of a mental health professional?
“Opposing to popular misunderstanding, you don’t have to be on the edge of a meltdown or be struggling to go to therapy. Although, it isn’t usually necessary for every little struggle life throws your way, especially if you have a strong support system of friends and family. Sometimes, the signs are apparent: like feeling sad for a longer period of time, changes in your sleep and appetite, frequent anger, withdrawing, motivation dip, thoughts of death or suicide, when your relationships feel strained or when you turn outside to alcohol or drugs to help you, or during a significant stressor such as death of a loved one, divorce; your coping skills may need some fine-tuning. Furthermore, you could also benefit from seeing a psychologist when you want mental clarity and gain greater self-awareness.
How can loved ones speak to and help someone with a mental health problem such as depression or anxiety?
“Talking compassionately and by supporting them with kindness can enormously support people suffering from any kind of mental illnesses. It can make them feel that they’re not alone, which is very hard to believe when one is suffering with depression. If they’re not ready to talk, remind them you’re here for them when they’re ready. Asking what you can do can really help them through their day. Sometimes you just need to listen. Helping doesn’t have to be a huge, drastic effort, it can be as simple as hearing them out in a non-judgemental manner.”
Could you provide some tips to improve mental wellbeing?
Good diet, exercise and sleep are some ways through which you can actively work on your mental health and improve your overall well being. Besides that, positive self talking, practicing gratitude, making time for yourself through hobbies, practicing forgiveness and talking to a trusted support network can be really helpful. Seek professional help when you need to, it’s a sign of strength.