Why many Indians don’t trust mental health advice

New Delhi: THE The World Health Organization estimates that 56 million Indians suffer from it depression and an estimated 38 million suffer from anxiety disorders. At the same time mmental health awareness is on the rise, especially in urban areas India. This is demonstrated by a study by UnivDatos Market Insights the mental health industry expected to grow at an annual rate of 15% for the years 2022-2028.

However, many Indians are unable to trust the process of seeking therapy due to disabling experiences.

A Mumbai student has sought therapy after coming out as a lesbian to her family. It was a terrible time in my life. My father had disowned me and I was always guilty. I felt I was letting my family down, Alina said* DW extension.



The 25-year-old said seeking help knocked her unconscious invalidated, uncertain and with low self-esteemMy therapist at the time told me that my father only wants what’s good for me, and that I should apologize to him. This made me feel like I should be ashamed of my sexuality. After a couple of sessions, Alina stopped seeing the therapist.

Now, fortunately, I’ve found a supportive queer community and a better therapist, Alina added. Many counselors and therapists advertise that they are queer-friendly, but in reality they are not. This is quite dangerous for the mental health of many individuals, especially those from traditional or restrictive families.

Also Read: Study Says New Focus Needed to Examine Mental Health of Indian Muslims

Same-sex marriage debate in India

As India’s highest court debates same-sex marriage, the Indian Psychiatric Society has extended its support to the cause of equal rights. In 2018, the umbrella body released a statement saying that homosexuality was a variant of normal sexuality and not a disease, adding that members of the LGBTQ+ community should be treated equally.

However, some practitioners still hold outdated views when it comes to sexuality.

Psychic disciplines have historically been based on social norms and treatments have been used as a way to correct or punish, says Raj Mariwala, director of the Mariwala Health Initiative (MHI). Women were diagnosed with hysteria. There are remains even now. The average appears to be cis heterosexual and able-bodied. The discipline has not looked beyond making professionals structurally competent and there are huge gaps in the care provided, he said DW extension.

Harmful advice

Sriram, 30, shared her reasons for not having children with her psychiatrist. After a few sessions, when the topic came up again, she said I didn’t want children because I was selfish. I didn’t understand how she affected me at the time. It was only when I went to another therapist that I was able to understand what a terrible experience I had, she said. DW extension.

He also dismissed my porn addiction as usual. I would not recommend it to anyone. She often shared other patients’ stories with me, which meant she also shared my stories with others, she said.

Being single and, or, childless, are choices therapists should respect, just like any other choice the client makes, said Harini Prasad, a consultant psychologist at Chinmaya Mission Hospital. DW extension. But if it’s a consultant who hasn’t identified their biases and doesn’t take over supervision, judgments can creep into the work.

Read also: Doctors, psychiatrists must read what daily hate, fear and anxiety means for Muslims in India

Ritika, a media professional, decided to get tested for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as an adult. After passing a series of costly and time-consuming behavioral assessment tests assigned to her by a mental health clinic, she got results that did not mention the disorder. She was told that she had generalized anxiety and mild depression, for which he was already being treated and on medication.

I’ve struggled with neurodivergence my entire life and ultimately sought evaluation when every aspect of my life was being impacted, Ritika said. But the psychologist I consulted had no working knowledge of the condition.

Additionally, these tests attempted to analyze me in ways that seemed offensive and hurtful. He said I struggle to communicate and therefore have difficulty forming lasting relationships. I work in communication, have a strong support system and have been with my partner for a decade. So I don’t know where the rating came from. They could have gotten more just by talking to me. It was not only useless but also harmful.

When Ritika questioned that ADHD was not mentioned, she was informed that she was not eligible. The whole process has left me furious and invalidated, she said.

She later sought advice from a professional who had been recommended to her and who had had a much better experience. Now I only look for professionals who are personally recommended by someone I trust, she added.

The Indian Mental Health Care Act, 2017 gives people the right to file complaints for deficiencies in the provision of services.

MHI conducts a Queer Affirmative Counseling Practice Course, through which it has already trained around 500 mental health professionals in India. It lists the names of practitioners who have completed the course on its website. Being queer, caste, disability friendly cannot be confined to just one course. Industry professionals should practice covenant and update regularly and consistently, Mariwala said DW extension.

When it comes to bad therapy, professionals say people shouldn’t be deterred from seeking help.

Clients need to trust how they feel around the therapist, counselor, psychiatrist. The same person may not be a good fit for everyone who needs support. Ask for credentials, ask what approaches the consultant uses and what their consent policy is. Above all, the customer should feel respected, their choices are respected and communication is respectful, said Prasad.

*Name changed for confidentiality.

This article was originally posted on DW extension.

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