Mental health is not a destination but a process

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Mental health is not a destination but a process

Introduction

“Mental health…is not a destination but a process.
It’s about how you drive, not where you’re going.”

As I compile my ‘Practicum Record’, I feel deeply grateful towards my Institute ‘Anugraha Institute of Social Sciences’ for providing me this opportunity to have a very enriching and growth-promoting experience at Antara Psychiatric treatment and rehabilitation centre.

Antara, an oasis for troubled minds where people journey towards wellness and happiness. Antara has given me a feeling of HOME and not a MENTAL HOSPITAL, where each person is kept like one of the member in the family and not a patient.

When I studied the subject of ‘Mental disorders’ in our 2nd semester, I didn’t realize it’s so important and helpful in Counselling practice, but now the practical experience at Antara, Psychiatric treatment and rehabilitation centre has inflamed my interest in learning this subject in a deeper and comprehensive manner, in-order to address these needs in human society. My experience of working with the mentally disturbed patients including drug addiction and alcohol dependence in different Wards of the Centre has been indeed a very unique type of experience where I encountered human suffering in its variety of expressions, realized the fragility and also the significance of our operating system called the ‘Mind’, understood the need and our responsibility to maintain its well-being, and also got the privilege to interact with various lives productively. Every interaction deepened my understanding of human nature and how people are affected by various situations of their lives. It developed in me a greater compassion, empathic insight, an integrated approach, and a commitment to contribute my best in uplifting such struggling sections of our society.

I am very much thankful to CEO, Mr. M. Thomas John for giving me an opportunity to be a part and work in Antara. I shall ever cherish the rich experience I had in Antara. Thank you sir for your support and cooperation towards me. I am also thankful to the enlightened and dedicated staff who have formed and empowered me to understand and intervene in various human situations with integrity, wholeness and insight. I acknowledge and express my deep thanks to Sir Nitai Mukherjee for his insightful guidance and contribution in my growth under whose caring supervision and systematic plan I was placed in different Wards and who helped me to meet the various needs of my practicum. I am deeply grateful to the Heads of the various Departments, for their valuable support and enriching contribution towards my personal as well as professional growth.

My Professional Learning

At Antara psychiatric treatment and rehabilitation centre Kolkata.

I feel privileged that I got an opportunity to have my Practicum experience in Antara which is one of the biggest Psychiatric Hospitals in the private sector in India. The hospital is run very systematically by highly equipped and dedicated management and staff. They have a special wing dedicated to the training program which is arranged so well with proper guidance, assistance, assessment and supervision.

It has indeed been a highly enriching and growth promoting exposure and experience for me from 21st May to 10th June 2018. Exposure to Antara brought in me real ‘change of my attitude towards mental illness and mentally disturbed people’. It showed me a wide window of possibility and dire need of my profession. Our target groups were psychotic as well as neurotic patients suffering from Mood disorders, Personality disorders, Schizophrenia, and substance and alcohol addiction etc.

The highly organized and systematic functioning of the hospital as a team was very appealing. The patients are distributed in Wards and each Ward is run by a team of staff; it includes a psychiatric doctor, psychologists, social workers and other nursing staff. Even if patients’ types are same, each Ward has its own way of functioning that taught me that there is no single approach in psychiatric treatment, but it is a creative endeavor with the mission and view to redeem the sick of their affliction, nurse them to normal health and make them fit and productive in the society.

Every day I was allotted in a different Ward where I was given chance to interact with the patients and observe them. It gave an opportunity to directly study the manifestation symptoms of various disorders and clearly assess their similarities and differences from other mental illnesses in minute details and in concrete manner. As counselor I also got a deeper clarity of my role as a counselor in the treatment process.

I developed an awareness that psychotherapist is a link in the chain of treatment process. I am not the only one but a member; it should humbly invite me to understand my role. I should leave the superior attitude and being a part of the group work I have to acknowledge and value others’ roles and be co-operative in the entire process of assessment, diagnosis, evaluation, treatment and follow-up.

Professionally I studied how to take MSE and assess the disorders and make a wide plan of treatment. It provided opportunity to study and employ various psychotherapies- REBT, CBT, Gestalt therapy, group therapy, Supportive therapy, yoga, laughing therapy, occupational therapy, play therapy etc. Seminars, Case studies and the cultural programme etc. deepened my intellectual knowledge of mental illnesses and treatments. It provided an opportunity to increase my understanding of Mental illness classification system especially in ICD-10 classification plus its differences and similarities with DSM-IV.

I learnt the importance of psycho-education for patients as well as the people related to them. I also got acquainted with the names of certain psychiatric medicines. I got the opportunity to attend different treatment modalities of De-addiction. I was also very fortunate to be in Child guidance clinic at Antara where along with the Play therapy I witnessed the counseling and guidance of the psychoanalyst Jolly Laha which was very enriching experience and insightful learning for my clinical purpose.

Witnessing to so many psychiatric cases and the comprehensive way they are diagnosed, now I feel very confident in diagnosing and conducting suitable therapies for the same. The 21 days program created in me the awareness that theoretical knowledge is only a support; the practical knowledge makes it more valuable and concrete.

In short, I developed a much deeper insight into the processes of detection, Assessment, Diagnosis and Treatment of mental illnesses.

My Personal Learning

At Antara psychiatric treatment and rehabilitation centre Kolkata.

This 21days training program was not only a time of enriching my professional life but it challenged and modified my personality too.

This was my first experience of working with mentally ill patients. This hands-on experience developed in me a sense of involvement in the lives of people who go through such psychic struggles. I realized how important it is to care for the well-being of our minds and not only our bodies, as it’s the mind that controls and guides our behaviour.

Earlier I had the opinion that psychiatric issues are totally outside my scope as a counsellor and I have nothing much to do about them. But, being here and interacting with these patients, I realized how great an impact I can make even in the lives of so-called psychotic cases through mere empathetic listening, understanding, non-judgmental and caring approach. The only technique that found best working with them is genuine Rogerian approach that focused on the person beneath and beyond the illness. I realized that in mental illness more than medicine or techniques; genuine loving and caring relationship is the real therapy that can produce wonders which I have experienced in Antara. The empathetic listening itself is a healing process for the people in mental distress.

Living with the psychotic humbled me in my egoistic thinking and inspired me to re-evaluate my judgments with regards to the activities of mentally ill people or addicts. Now I can understand their agitation, aggression or inactiveness in a greater compassionate manner.

I am glad about the most significant growth in my attitude that has taken place – ‘To attend and appeal to the ‘Inner Healthy Core’ of the person, believing in his innate potential, goodness, and strength; beyond his challenge, struggle, disability, or impairment’ and I found that when I approach the patient with this insight in me, Healing occurs! Once again I express my deep gratitude to the CEO Mr. M. Thomas John for giving me the best opportunity to work in Antara. I am carrying the rich experience and memories of Antara in my heart and will definitely share these experiences in my college. Thank you and God’s abundant blessings on Antara.

This blog has been Written by – Ms. Leelabati Kishan (M.sc in Counseling and psychotherapy, Anugraha Institute of Social sciences, Tamilnadu)

*Disclaimer:- The opinion expressed in the blog is the opinion of the writer & not necessarily the opinion of ANTARA Organization.

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