World Mental Health Day: Distressed Kashmiris Seeking Solace in Therapy

KO Photos by Abid Bhat

On the World Mental Health Day, Kashmir Observer talked to some mental health professionals in the valley to understand how therapy has helped people to overcome mental health problems.  

CONSTANT community curbs and domestic distress would cloud Faizan’s focus for most of his life. His crestfallen condition would be triggered by his untamed guilt-mindset making him believe that he was the only person suffering from depression among his peers.

When he was about to get married, he finally decided to break his punishing silence by contacting Dr. Arif Magribhi through Facebook.

After a series of sessions on social media, when Faizan became comfortable in sharing his problems with the mental specialist, they started telephonic counseling.

Ultimately, Faizan visited Maghribi’s clinic and attended five healing sessions.

The mental specialist tried to boost his confidence and asked him to maintain a ‘gratitude journal’ in which Faizan wrote about his achievements.

In the initial stages, he was given medicines and showed some improvement.

After sometime, Faizan started appreciating his feats and ended up slaying demons of depression.

Today, as a successful lecturer, Faizan frequents Maghribi’s clinic, with his wife, to donate multivitamin tablets to help out other patients.

Support System

Zafar was suffering from severe Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in his mid-20s when he visited Syed Nasir Geelani, a therapist at child guidance and wellbeing Centre.

As a part of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Geelani started exposure and response prevention therapy with Zafar.

In this therapy, Zafar was given exposure to his obsessions and was prevented from doing compulsive acts. He was also given acceptance and commitment therapy to help him accept his thoughts.

Geelani and his team provided psychoeducation to Zafar’s parents to help them understand the problem he was going through so that he would get his parental support.

With one-and-a-half-year therapy, Zafar’s condition improved and currently, he’s pursuing higher studies.

Depression has no age

When eight-year-old Arif suffered from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), he was unable to concentrate on his studies.

Oblivious of his troubled mindset, Arif’s parents started punishing him for his shortcomings. The stick treatment only made him anxious.

Scolded by teachers and parents alike, he started feeling unworthy and spent most of his time alone.

The eight-year-old started losing confidence and self-esteem, as symptoms of depression took deep roots in him.

When Arif’s cousin, also his tuition teacher and a psychology student, saw his condition, she took him to Wasim Rashid Kakroo, a child and adolescent therapist.

Kakroo was able to explain Arif’s condition to his cousin. A treatment plan was built by the therapist and Arif’s cousin started accessing him at home.

The child therapist also talked to Arif’s parents and explained the problems the child was going through and made them understand how punishment could aggravate the child’s problem.

“With the help of his parents and cousin, Arif showed 70 per cent improvement in his behavior,” said Kakroo.

His parents were advised not to insist their son for studies for some time, and instead encourage him in other activities to boost his confidence.

Once his self-esteem improved, the therapist started focusing on Arif’s curriculum.

The child, today, isn’t even a pale shadow of his troubled past.

A Businesswoman’s Fight

After insomnia, lack of appetite and irritability made Noor’s life impossible, she was taken for an emergency counseling session with Ifra Amin, a mental health counselor.

Accompanied by her toddler, mother and brother, Noor recalls crying like a baby at the counseling centre.

Her trouble had begun when she landed in an abusive marriage, where endless dowry demands derailed her mindset. She hesitated in telling her condition to her parents as Noor’s elder sister was already divorced and she didn’t want to burden her family with another problem.

She kept suffering until one day she couldn’t handle it anymore and left her in-laws with her child.

In her parent’s home, Noor grew nonchalant, became insomniac, and lost her appetite.

She would spend most of the time crying in her room. When her mother saw her condition, she decided to take her to a counselor.

When counselor Amin met Noor, she started CBT to identify the distortions in her.

“We talked to her entire family to assure Noor that she has support from everyone,” recalled Amin.

Amin used psychotherapy along with medicines. The counselor tried to inculcate positive coping skills in Noor through different sessions and she started responding in five-six months.

Eventually, Noor filed for divorce and got custody of her baby with the support of her family. She even started a small boutique with the help of an NGO. Today, the mental health survivor is booming with life and confidence.

After seeking solace in therapy, she’s now planning to expand her business.

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