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February 10, 2023 12:32 pm

Here are Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Mental Health

By Wasim Kakroo

I get multiple responses and questions on my Mindful Fridays weekly column on Kashmir Observer. In today’s column, I’ve tried to answer the most frequently asked questions which we’ve received.

Q1: How can we make each other aware of mental health given there’s so much dismissal around it?

A multifaceted approach that incorporates education, open and honest interactions with others, and a change in cultural attitudes can help people understand the importance of mental health and lessen the stigma associated with it. Here are some methods you may use to spread awareness and promote mental health:

1. Beginning the discussion: Initiate the conversation yourself to de-stigmatize mental health and encourage others to do the same. Share your own insights or lend a hand to struggling friends and family members.

2. Educate yourself: Find out about the warning signs and symptoms of mental health issues as well as the services available to help people who need them. You’ll be able to converse with others in a knowledgeable and encouraging manner as a result.

3. Utilize social media: Share articles, videos, and resources on social media to increase awareness and promote mental health. Use hashtags to join the discussion and connect with other people who are trying to de-stigmatize mental health.

4. Encourage change: Advocate for programmes and policies that promote mental health and lessen stigma. This can involve campaigning for the inclusion of mental health in workplace wellness programmes or supporting legislation that expands access to mental health resources.

Keep in mind that everyone can contribute to the promotion of mental health and the reduction of its stigma. We can all work together to build a world that is more encouraging and understanding by making modest changes and being an ally.

Q2: Are attachment styles in relationships a real thing or are they just something of a pop-psychology stuff on the internet?

Psychoanalysis is the foundation of the attachment theory. John Bowlby, a British psychoanalyst, was the person who initially put the concepts of attachment theory forth in an effort to comprehend what infants go through when they are taken away from their parents. According to Bowlby’s view, newborns are physically predisposed to develop a bond with their carer from the moment they are born. Bowlby hypothesised that any interruption to a secure bond can have serious repercussions because such an attachment aids in their survival. Bowlby goes on to say that a baby’s attachment style developed with their caregivers serves as a model for all future relationships, including romantic ones.

Bowlby’s theory was elaborated upon by developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth, who proposed that caregivers act as an infant’s “secure basis” and classified attachment styles into four categories: secure, anxious-ambivalent, disorganised, and avoidant.

Researchers first popularised the notion, but the pop psychology book “Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment, and How It Can Help You Find — and Keep — Love” published in 2010 is when the idea of attachment styles first took off as it related this concept to adult love. Dr. Amir Levine, a clinical psychiatrist and neuroscience researcher, and psychologist Rachel Heller wrote that best-selling book.

According to attachment theory, someone who exhibits a secure attachment style can build loving relationships with others. Such people do not fear intimacy and do not become alarmed or frightened when a partner requests privacy. Social psychologists Cindy Hazan and Phillip Shaver’s seminal study on attachment in the 1980s indicated that 56% of persons experience safe attachments.

The theory does, however, also propose additional attachment “styles” besides secure. Anxious attachment style individuals are said to have a deep fear of abandonment. This might show up when, for example, a partner takes too long to respond to a text. According to theory, the caregiver of a person with an anxious attachment could be erratic with their love and affection or even partially absent.

A person with avoidant attachment is said to have a profound fear of intimacy and a tendency to withdraw from a romantic partner when the connection becomes too close. This person’s caregiver tended to be dismissive and distant.

Last but not least, disordered attachment occurs when a person exhibits traits from both anxious and avoidant attachment styles. The attachment style theory suggests that people who exhibit this attachment style may have experienced neglect or abuse as children.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that an individual’s attachment style, which is theoretically impacted by their relationship with their caregivers as a child, isn’t set in stone as an adult. They can change during the course of a person’s life, just like personalities can.

Q3: We hear a lot about how our mental health is related to childhood traumas or experiences. Often times parents have to go to work when their children are only about 0-2 years old, even though they have other loving caregivers. Does it affect their mental health and do these things show up later?

Yes, a child’s mental health and wellbeing can be significantly impacted by early events and interactions. According to research, children who receive consistent, nurturing caregiving (even by caring and loving grandparents etc.) during their initial years of life are more likely to eventually enjoy better outcomes in terms of emotional control, social competence, and overall mental health.

This does not imply that all kids who spend time away from their parents during their formative years would suffer negative consequences, though. In fact, the presence of abusive parents around can be more detrimental than absence of parents. Other elements, such as the child’s temperament, the caregiver’s level of care and the general family environment, are also important.

It’s also crucial to keep in mind that the consequences of early experiences may not always become apparent right away but instead may surface later in life, such as in adulthood.

Q4: What are some ways to make our mental health better on a day to day basis?

Here are some daily strategies to enhance your mental well-being:

1. Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity can help with mood, stress, and anxiety reduction.

2. Get adequate sleep: it’s important for your mental health and wellbeing. Attempt to get 7-9 hours of restful sleep each night.

3. Have a healthy diet: Eat a balanced diet to maintain a healthy mood and sufficient energy.

4. Connect with others: Spending time with family and friends or taking part in social activities can lift your spirits and lessen symptoms of loneliness and depression.

5. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness practices such as yoga, deep breathing, and meditation can help people feel less stressed and anxious.

6. Learn to identify and handle negative thoughts: Learning how to identify and handle negative self-talk and replace it with more compassionate self-talk can increase your sense of self-esteem.

7. Do what you like to do: Try to relax and have fun by doing things like reading, writing, or following a hobby.

8. Help others: Volunteering or providing assistance to others can increase feelings of happiness and contentment.

To find what works best for you, keep in mind that everyone has different needs, so it could take some trial and error. A professional’s help from mental health professionals such as a clinical psychologist and/or a psychiatrist should always be sought if necessary.

Q5: Does the mental health of your partner affect your general wellbeing?

Yes, a person’s general wellbeing can be significantly impacted by their partner’s mental health. When one partner has mental health problems, it can lead to stress and tension in the marriage, which can subsequently have a bad effect on both couples’ mental health and wellbeing.

A spouse’s capacity to engage in activities and communicate with their partner, for instance, may be affected by their mental health, which may make them feel lonely, isolated, and cut off. This may then have a domino effect, causing the other partner to experience frustration, irritation, sadness and stress.

On the other side, couples who are in good mental health are better able to deal with the difficulties that arise in a relationship and are more likely to have a happy and fulfilling relationship.

Couples should support each other’s mental health and seek assistance, when necessary, whether that be through therapy, counseling, or other types of treatment. Both spouses can strengthen their mental health and wellbeing by cooperating, which will result in a more solid and satisfying relationship.

Q6: What are some places which provide free mental health services in Kashmir?

In Kashmir, there are several organizations and govt. institutions that offer free mental health services to those in need. Some of these include:

1. Department of Psychiatry, Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar: This Medical College-run institution namely, Institute of Mental Health And Neurosciences (IMHANS) Kashmir offers mental health services, including diagnosis and treatment, at no cost to patients.

2. There are department of psychiatry in almost every District hospital and major medical colleges across Jammu and Kashmir where free diagnosis and treatment is provided.

3. In addition, there are several NGOs such as Mass Sans Frontiers (MSF), Kashmir Life Line, that have been offering free mental health services to such patients at no cost for past several decades.

It is important to note that these services may vary depending on the specific organization or institution, and it is best to check with each one for specific information about the services they provide.

  • The author is a licensed clinical psychologist (alumni of Govt. Medical College Srinagar) and works as a consultant clinical psychologist at Centre for Mental Health Services (CMHS) at Rambagh Srinagar. He can be reached at 8825067196

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