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'Perverts who rape girls and women are afraid of punishment and nothing else'
At a time when people are demanding a better India, Dr. Rachana K. Singh through her Mind and Wellness clinic is actually helping people to change their mindset so that they can self-improve and also make a difference to society as such. In an interview with this citizen journalist, Dr. Singh talks about how we can be more 'wellness-friendly,' handle stress better, and the mind of a sexual offender.

A qualified Consultant Doctor & Lifestyle Management Expert, she is the director of Mind & Wellness Clinic, head of department for Holistic Medicine & Psychology, Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon, and was also the ex-consultant for Escorts Heart Institute, New Delhi. She counsels couples, children, conducts corporate workshops, and has been awarded the Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Ratna Award for exemplary performance in stress management.

What are today's major psychological disorders, and how have they changed since the last five years?

Psychological disorders are patterns of behavioral or psychological symptoms that impact multiple areas of life that can create distress. The major psychological disorders are anxiety, cognitive, mood, eating, and developmental. In the past five years, awareness about psychological disorders has increased hence reducing the stigma among individuals. As a result, more individuals suffering from psychological problems have come forward to seek help.

What kind of techniques do you use to treat people who come to your Mind and Wellness Clinic?

At Mind and Wellness Clinic we provide counseling in relationship difficulties, parenting issues-coping with parenthood and children/adolescent; individual therapies with children and adults; family therapy, marital therapy, hypnotherapy, past life regression, alternative medicine for holistic health and lifestyle intervention, psychological assessment, and corporate workshops.

How do you tackle a patient who has both physical and emotional problems?

Patients suffering from a physical illness must cope with the condition and yet the emotional dimensions of these conditions are frequently overlooked when medical care is considered. Concepts such as the “sick role” and “illness behavior” have helped us understand the impact of disease. Yet, challenges still exist in the recognition and management of the psychological and social dimensions of chronic illness. In cases like these, the physical aspect of the problem is tackled first, and then the person is therapeutically treated to the emotional inconsistencies that the client is experiences. These include helping the client adjusting with the physical problem and helping him understand the importance of living a mentally healthy lifestyle as well.

Many people, still in our society, do not consider therapy or psychological problems as real problems. Why do you think this still prevails in our society and do you come face to face with such people in your profession?

Psychological disorders affect our society in many ways and are more common than most would believe. Yet, there is a stigma revolving around psychological problem. This stigma can be described as a sign of disgrace setting a person apart from others. For those with mental illness, the stigma experienced can result in a lack of funding for services, difficulty gaining employment, a mortgage or holiday insurance. Ultimately, feelings of stigma cause people to delay seeking help or even deny they have symptoms in the first place. This problem, though on a lesser degree still prevails in the society due to reinforcement by the portrayal of mental illness in the society. Yes, we do come face to face with people daily who feel stigmatized for approaching a psychologist to seek help.

What are the stigmas that are still attached to psychological intervention, and is it decreasing gradually?

The feelings of stigma that are still attached to psychological intervention causes people to delay seeking help or even deny they have symptoms in the first place. Casual language used to describe mental illness is decidedly negative. He or she is described as going mad, mental or psycho. Media portrayals reinforce this with images of violence and homicide associated with mental ill health. There are no public standards for illness portrayal. People will always observe and mock erratic behaviour. The point is that the media must represent mental ill health correctly and respectfully. As compared to recent years, the stigma revolving around psychological problems has decreased some folds due to the recent awareness programs that have been put on the circuit. Also, media has played an important role in some aspects to reduce the stigmatization.

You have conducted a number of corporate workshops. How important are stress management, anger management and wellness in our offices today?

Wellness, Stress Management and Anger Management Programs have become essential in the workplace as research suggests that a well-designed and carefully implemented program not only reduces employee stress and improve health, but also result in bottom-line benefits for the organization. The initial goal of the program is to address the sources of non-value-added stress (distress) on the job. The next is the need to improve staff’s coping abilities by better attention to diet, physical exercise and stress management. These programs promote and strengthen the individual’s potential to understand and experience situations (both work and life events) in a way that compels them to act constructively rather than adopt a more non-assertive, blaming perspective.

Do you think Indian schools take counseling seriously? How important is it to include counseling and wellness sessions in schools? Is awareness and orientation required between 11-18 years to create the right environment for future counseling?

In the past few years, as the awareness around counseling psychology has increased, Indian schools have taken counseling on a more serious level. The counselling, advising, and wellness programs serve to address the student as a whole person and support them in all aspects of student life. Students are encouraged to develop close relationships with adults and to ask for help when needed. The wellness program provides topical information to students in the areas of social, emotional, ethical, intellectual, mental, physical and spiritual development. Through these topics and follow-up discussions, students are exposed to issues relating to self care, mental health symptoms, drugs and alcohol, human relationships and sexuality, ethical behavior, environmental issues, and global awareness.

Yes, awareness and orientation play an important role between age groups of 11-18 years to create the right environment for future counseling as it makes them aware of the importance of counseling and support groups.

How can wellness techniques bring about a change in gender biases in our society?

Male dominance has been always been supported by government agencies, legal systems, and religious doctrines. Inequities in health care co-exist with the continuation of male dominance, and as women persevere for equal status, they bring with them many issues centred on their health concerns. The slow, yet deliberate, shift in professional attitudes might be enhanced in several ways. Biases and prejudices gathered over a lifetime are difficult, if not impossible, to alter. In Wellness Techniques, where both women and men are treated with the dignity and respect deserved, attitudes in these techniques will continue to help understand the falsity surrounding gender bias and help overcome it.

Many of us multitask, use numerous gadgets and have high stress level. In such a situation, can people maintain good relationships? Is wellness therapy a necessary part in everyone's life?

While many people say multitasking makes them more productive, research shows otherwise. Heavy multitaskers actually have more trouble focusing and shutting out irrelevant information, scientists say, and they experience more stress. All of us know that being as healthy and physically fit as possible has a number of benefits. When we feel better we are happier and more pleasant to work with. We also have more energy during the day, and enjoy both our work and activities outside of work more.

However, many of us don't realize that by improving our Fitness and Wellness, we also improve our safety performance. Studies show that when we are healthier and physically fit, we typically have fewer accidents. This is because we are more alert and can more easily avoid problem situations when we encounter them. We are better able to assist fellow employees in avoiding potential accidents as well. Surveys also show us that the better we feel physically and mentally, the more productive we are in our work. All of us know that we seem to be able to accomplish more when we are feeling "up to snuff".

Your motto is to encourage an 'individual tapping highest potential through healthier lifestyle choices, by exercising his body and stretching his mind and imagination.' How can one stretch his/her mind and imagination?

Stretching the mind and imagination focuses on easing the person slowly into a social and sound atmosphere. Our expert and co-operative approach focuses on handling situations and opening the human mind to a more creative and imaginative adventure. Stretching the mind and imagination means expanding the thinking. It implies to getting out there and stretching your visual thinking. We advocate that don’t be satisfied with the status quo and don’t be afraid to explore some different varieties of visual thinking. It means broadening your ability to envision ideas, solve problems and generate solutions. It’s time to do great things, dream big, and make a dent in the universe.

Have you encountered people who are more than informed about therapy and want a particular type of treatment?

Yes, some individuals who seek treatment for their psychological problems tend to do research on therapies before coming in for consultation. In such cases, they demand for a particular therapeutic treatment whichever they have read to be more suitable to their problem. In such cases, the clients are first asked why they believe that the therapeutic treatment they are seeking is the best to solve their problem. In the light of their knowledge they are explained and suggested about advised treatment for their problems.

Why do you think that sexual abuse and crime against women has increased in the recent past?

Criminals and perverts who rape girls and women are afraid of punishment and nothing else. They have no shame or guilt. In the absence of strong punishments for the convicted and failure to nab the guilty, these anti-social elements have become overly confident. Fear of social exclusion forces most victims to keep quiet and not approach police. Lack of action by victims also encourages the criminals to attack more girls. Life imprisonment for rapists can put off such rogues.

Should India as a nation become more mental health conscious? Is therapy the right answer?

Yes, India as a nation needs to bring changes in their mindset and seek new adjusting behaviors. Many people don't know that they need to change their mindset. Then there are those who are in denial, which means they know, but are too scared to make the changes. The change in mindset of both men and women is required to be able to live in a nation without gender discrimination and respect each other. Therapy offers to address the issues of the importance of trust and respect within the individuals of the society. Therapy is a technique that would be an important agent for changing mindset of people.

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