The pocket therapist

Cut queues and unload your highs and lows by opening doors to online therapy

The pocket therapist

Akshita Sethi

Alexa, get rid of all my problems, please! What if rebooting a human mind would have been as simple as asking your home device to play a nursery rhyme? Every so often, we all need a few words of encouragement or a warm hug of hope to pacify our bubbling cauldron of emotions before it leads to an absolute breakdown. While people empathise with those suffering from physical disorders, the same sentiment is not transferred to someone dealing with mental illness; the severity of stigma around the subject is monstrous. Our society’s razor-sharp judgmental eyes and cynicism around mental health makes us want to shut ourselves in a room and flush the key to it.

HOW CAN A NON-THERAPIST HELP?

  • Don’t jump in with advice.
  • Be a good listener; it makes the person feel valued
  • Do not Google for symptoms and diagnosis
  • Gently suggest professional help

REACH OUT

As luck would have it, neither are we robots nor are we descendants of Freud to be equipped with healing our broken psyche ourselves. We are all in search of a friend-like therapist Shah Rukh Khan who will take us to a beach where the water will drown our problems after a light-hearted chat session. And for those of us who need to talk without leaving the comfort of our living room sofa, help is available in a more affordable and intimate format.

INSTA-THERAPY

With a vision to bridge the gap between you, your problems and someone who wants to lend an ear, Delhi University graduates, Bani Singh and Drishti Gupta, created Now and Me, an online community that moderates discussions and lets you vent anonymously about anything under the sun. “From mood disorders and body positivity to relationship struggles, Now and Me aims at addressing the issue of loneliness and fight the constant dilemma of ‘Am I sharing too much’ in the form of stories, expert opinions and informative quizzes. The anonymity gives one a sense of safety too,” says Gupta. Just scrolling down their bright empathetic posts on Instagram is enough to assure you there is no dearth of a listening ear. The space encourages you to be mindful and live in the moment by posting relatable content like a listicles on songs that help you deal with anxiety.

THERAPIST ON THE GO

With the explosion of smartphone users, the flexible nature of online counseling and tele-therapy is a huge draw for someone who faces lack of motivation because of steep dues and shame attached to the subject. For clinical psychologist and psychotherapist Prachi Vaish, the pros of online therapy are clear. There is flexibility with timings, no physical commute and it is more economical. “Hope Network has a web of professionals who provide counseling via chats, phone calls and video chats to people who are more comfortable in their office cabin. This isn’t something most people would ask their friends or colleagues as they would for a general physician,” says Vaish.

SAFE CONNECTION

Looking someone in the eye during an emotionally charged conversation can be strenuous for those dealing with social anxiety. Vaish adds, “Sometimes it is easier to spill our innermost thoughts and share traumatizing experiences when there is a safe distance. I have had clients who prefer writing over talking about it.” Establishing trust with a patient is of utmost importance during virtual sessions. Vaish stresses that there are certain conditions that are not suitable for online counseling alone. “Cases like flared psychosis, repeated hallucinations including schizophrenia, episodes of delusion and suicidal emergencies. These demand in-clinic supervision; however, a good rapport with an online therapist can provide immediate action to avoid crisis-like situations. For such cases, we refer clients to professionals, keeping a database at hand.”

RECIPE FOR HAPPINESS

Many of us have turned into human versions of self-help books by scrolling through countless motivational quotes and words of wisdom doodled against attractive pastel backgrounds. What did we learn? It made us realise that no single solution can be the answer for everyone and one doesn’t need to be a professional in order to lend an ear. Fighting prejudices against mental health and finding heterogeneous answers, is what makes The Happy Company exclusive. “Our volunteers are trained to empathise. To get in touch, one can simply text us on our Instagram page, a simple ‘hi’ works too,” says happiness crusader and founder Bhavika Mehta. The platform provides free assistance and serves as an avenue to release your frustrations when nobody around you seems to care, and you might discover a stranger saying ‘Me Too!’ —Inputs by Prachi Vaish

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