There is a universe of institutions and mental wellness experts to help you beat Covid-induced doldrums and get your life back on track
Namrata Kohli | New Delhi
A person becomes stressed when s/he faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation in between. Credits: Adobe Stock
The spike in cases of depression during the pandemic period was evident, among many other things, in the popularity of hashtag mental wellness, which was trending in social media. What was usually swept under the carpet before Covid-19 struck was pulled into the spotlight during two years of coronavirus, with celebrities talking about how they dealt with depression. Some managed to keep it at bay by working on preventive techniques such as meditation, mindfulness, breathing exercises and yoga.
Mental wellness is neither the absence of mental illness, nor is it a state of constant happiness. The World Health Organization defines it as a state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, and can cope with the normal stresses of life and work productively.
To App Or Not to App
Several apps such as HeadSpace, Mindhouse, ThinkRight.me, Buddhify, Evergreen Club are available to dive deep into mental well-being tools. But how does one know when to subscribe to one, when to visit a clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist.
Says Dr Samir Parikh, Director of Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Healthcare: “We need to distinguish between prevention, awareness and intervention (the last is more towards the clinical side). We can’t generalise and categorise all apps into one thing. Prevention is always better than cure. If the information in the app is validated from credible sources and makes you feel good about yourself and makes a positive difference to your life, great. So, this is a semi-intervention as these apps are helping people know, understand and at some level, even build life skills. Many platforms are helping create awareness with factual information.”
Apps help us create and build awareness and life skills, and experts are useful when active intervention is needed. But how does one know when one must move from a preventive treatment to a curative one? Parikh explains with an analogy of a patient seeking advice for weight concerns versus someone having active diabetes. He says- “It is one thing to have weight concerns and rely on a good diet plan and good routine. But if you also have diabetes and want to know what medicines to take or whether treatment has to be initiated or not, you must consult a doctor.”
What are the tell-tale signs of mental disease? How does the patient or his near dear ones know when the problem needs to be clinically treated and is beyond preventive treatment? Says Aditi Solanki, Clinical Psychologist, Aakash Healthcare Super Specialty Hospital, Dwarka: “If an individual is being significantly impacted by disturbing thought patterns, feelings and beliefs in day-to-day functioning that are not intrinsic to his nature, then there is a problem . Also, if that is being noticed by others at home, it is a clear indication that clinical help is needed. Counselling is a continuous process that creates a difference in our lives and is a vital parallel to the medical treatment of psychiatric issues.”
Whom should one visit–a psychologist or a psychiatrist? Both have common goals–-promoting mental health and helping people overcome emotional struggles. Often, psychologists have different treatment approaches and techniques that usually do not involve medication. Parikh says that you can go to any and they will refer you to another in case that is needed. He says, “If someone has an anxiety disorder and s/he goes to see a psychiatrist who feels medical intervention may not be required but psychotherapy is needed, he will refer the person to a psychologist or a psychotherapist. And vice versa.”
For some reason, women outnumber men when it comes to depression. Research points out that one in every five women have depression as a disease, compared with one in every eight men. Experts attribute this to the biological component, the hormonal interface with the neurotransmitters, the psycho-social stresses on women reeling under the pressure of multiple roles of work life balance, parenting and being a caregiver for elders and kids.
How much time can it take to treat a mental disorder. This depends on a variety of factors and differs from person to person. Says Akash’s Solanki: “Many factors play an important role in this, such as the individual’s nature of illness, underlying psyche, the severity of symptoms, social help, physiological response to the medical treatment, drug compliance, etc.”
The mental wellness toolkit
Whether one is coping with a loss, shifting careers, adapting to remote working or learning how to leave an unhealthy relationship-it’s easy in these difficult and uncertain times to lose hope. But investing in mental health, whether preventive or curative, will only help in bringing out one’s fullest potential.
Platforms such as Thinkright.Me price their mental wellness programmes at Rs 899 per annum. Says their spokesperson: “Some popular programmes include B K Shivani’s Let Go of Expectations, Create a Beautiful World by Vidisha Kaushal, Relax & Heal Your Body by Ira Trivedi.”
Other apps offer a host of such programmes (See Table below).
Some portals run mental wellness programmes both offline and online. Mindvalley, for instance, has an extensive library of master classes and programmes in mental well-being space such as “Super Brain”, “Uncompromised Life”, “Be Extraordinary”, “The Silva Ultramind System”. Says Vishen Lakhiani, co-founder and CEO of Mindvalley: “The conversation surrounding mental wellness has become increasingly common over the past decade. At Mindvalley, we have over 15,000 stories on our website highlighting the struggles and accomplishments that thousands of our students have experienced. Especially over the last two years, we have seen the deterioration of our mental health due to isolation and limited social interaction, and as the effects of this pandemic continue to play out, it has become more important than ever to make our mental wellbeing a priority.”
Just as we go to the gym, we need to work on the mind gym everyday. Says wellness expert Amitabh Swetta, Founder of 1000 Petals: “Mind and body are not two separate things–they are organisms that work together. We need to attend to the body, the mind and the energy, on a daily basis. It’s our responsibility. We keep seeking outwardly for solutions, but the solutions are inside. If you want to see a transformation within yourself, be prepared to spend at least two to three hours on your mental fitness. Your morning work should include asanas, yoga, pranayama on a regular basis plus meditation while evening work can be gentle and relaxed meditation for an hour.”
Practitioners of mental wellness therapies like Swetta say that their clients range from 18-70 years and come from all walks of life–politicians, IAS officers, top ranking corporate executives, housewives. Sat Swetta: “If they apply themselves correctly for six months, their life goes through a total transformation and they start living with far more awareness, alertness. They get purified and have a greater sense of discrimination and are able to assess every thought that comes out of their mind, for its propensity to elevate them or pull them down. Basically, the mind is brought under control and they become the master of their minds, not slaves.”
Swetta talks about Kundalini activation technique. He says, “Kundalini is the primordial energy that creates this entire universe. We hold onto a lot of emotions within us and blame ourselves, but those are coming from past experiences. To rid yourself of all these, you have to acknowledge yourself. That is the work of kundalini which happens through three pathways of bhakti or complete and total surrender of the self.”
A seven-day Kundalini activation course costs Rs 1,111, while the ones on meditation and yogasutra are priced at Rs 799 and Rs 2,500, respectively. Besides there are special meditation courses on full moon and new moon nights.
Finally, we can’t live at the mercy of our emotions. We all need to nurture and balance our mind. As they say, the mind is not a dustbin for anger, hatred and jealousy. It’s a treasure box to keep love, happiness and sweet memories! And the only way to do this is by becoming the master of mind.
Price list of some mental wellness apps available in the market
||Guided meditations that cover areas like cravings, finding focus, dealing with regret and difficult conversations, and even creative writing
||Annually-Free for 14 days, then Rs 1,499/year (125 per month)
|Monthly : 7 days free; 160/month thereafter
|Mental Health, Stress, Chat Therapy, Meditation, mindfulness exercises
Rs 7,535 per month or
18,190 for three months
|Psychotherapy, Yoga, Mental Health, Self-help, Remote counsellors, sexual wellness
||Rs 299/Therapy Session with consultation plans: Rs 399-1,999
|Mental Health, Meditation, Nutrition, Yoga
||Subscription: Quarterly Rs 399; annually Rs 699
|Positive thinking, Self-care, Well-being, Spirituality
||All programmes are part of annual subscription plan, priced at Rs 499
|Mental Health, Anxiety, Self-helpIt is available
Well-being, meditation, yoga, home Zumba, acupressure
|Pay per session, ranging from Rs 35-375
Source: TechSci Research