The psychiatrist’s couch has moved online…
Depression, stress, anxiety, panic, phobias, eating disorders, parenting issues, anger management, relationship problems, neurosis, bipolar disorder – the problems of fast-paced competitive lifestyle of today are many and to cope with them some of us need counselling services from trained psychiatrists. One in 20 Indians suffers from depression, with a higher incidence among women, the elderly and those in urban areas.
Formerly, the only option was to consult the psychiatrist at his or her clinic and there was always the fear of bumping into a known person at the clinic with the consequent embarrassment! Further, most people do not seek professional help because of lack of awareness, stigma, time constraints and treatment cost. To compound the problem, there is a woefully low number of mental health professionals in India, especially outside the metros.
The advent of online counselling or e-counselling has enabled us to receive the therapy anonymously from the familiar environment of home with communication through laptop or tablet or mobile. The consultation with expert counsellors takes place securely, privately and confidentially.
The finer aspects of e-counselling…
The ideal medium for ecounselling is video conferencing or video call, although phone, chat, internet phone, email may also be utilised. The advantage with video call is that the therapist can see and listen to the user almost as well as face-to-face, thereby being able to observe the emotions and body language of the user. Psychiatrists engaged in e-therapy first get trained in ‘Technology Assisted Distance Counselling’ (TACD) which enables them to offer online counselling which is as good the offline face-to-face counselling.
The emotional problems are broken down into smaller fragments, so that incremental goals can be set and desired results may be achieved one step at a time. In addition to resolving the specific problem, e-counselling enables you manage emotions better, manage time and work better, have smoother relationships and feel calm and relaxed. Also enhance your personality, communication skills, productivity & efficiency. After all, emotional wellness is the key to a happier and healthier life.
Online counselling is not recommended for serious personality disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, paranoid disorder, acute distress, suicidal feelings etc, which may need a combination of intense face-to-face counselling and medication.
Apps to tackle depression...
'Push-D' app, developed by Nimhans, is a self-help tool to tackle mild to moderate depression. To begin with, the person will be evaluated by Nimhans face-to-face or via Skype and if Nimhans is convinced that the person can benefit from self-care, an username and password is generated. Thereafter, the user has to go over a series of sections in the app and carry out the specified exercises.
'No More Tension' app, developed by National Health Portal, provides information about stress, it's causes, indicators and stress management techniques. The app has a stress meter which calculates stress level of an individual and provides solutions as per the stress level.