As empowering as the #MeToo movement has made us since it broke on Twitter, it’s been equally traumatic to go through accounts of sexual harassment and assault from almost hundreds of women. The accounts, some of which are described in explicit detail, have been distressing for people who have been reminded of the traumatic episodes that they may have suppressed.
At a time like this, a group of mental health professionals have openly offered their services at reduced rates, some even for free. “The reason I put out a post on Twitter, saying that we can offer help even to people with financial constraints, is to encourage more people to talk about what they’re going through,” says Aakriti Joanna, a Bangalore-based therapist and founder of Kahamind, a mental health counselling service that offers online therapy.
To those who’ve been rendered exhausted with the accounts, Mumbai-based independent practitioner Sneha Janaki advises them to take time off. “Allow yourself to log-off from social media. It’s understandably tempting to continue obsessively scrolling through the testimonials, but it can be quite harrowing to read multiple stories at the same time. Our minds are not equipped to handle so many triggering accounts at once because it often protects itself by suppressing information,” Janaki says.
Joanna, whose organisation offers online, offline and telephonic counselling says bottling up everything is more harmful. “There’s a need to talk about what each person is going through or else the pent-up emotion can lead to bigger psychological issues. We don’t mind if someone wishes to remain anonymous but wants to let out all the anguish building up inside them. We have been building all our social media platforms to let people know that they can talk to us from the comfort of their safe space,” says Joanna.
Following the #MeToo movement, that has been blowing up our collective Twitter feeds since Friday, psychologist and therapist, Scherezade Sanchita Siobhan says she has seen an upsurge in the number of cases. “Women are calling to figure out how they can get help to deal with sexual abuse and assault. We have seen a few stark cases of incest and other buried memories that have been triggered. I also have cases of older women, who are reaching out to talk about experiences from decades ago. We’re witnessing a volcanic sputter of inter-generational sexual violence,” says Siobhan, whose organisation The Talking Compass provides therapy and special at-home counselling for those with social anxiety.
Siobhan says her doors are also open for people from the marginalised communities. “We offer online and telephonic counselling sessions at half the cost of the original session fee. Apart from that, we are also doing pro-bono work for marginalised women who don’t have the means to pay for counselling.”
A World Health Organization report shows that India is leading as the most depressed country in the world. Our country has the most number of cases of anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder as per the report. The average suicide rate in India is 10.9 for every one lakh people. Unfortunately, mental health is still not treated as a serious ailment due to the taboo around it.
If you need to get in touch with any of three mental health professionals mentioned in the story:
Aakriti Joanna – Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sneha Janaki – Write to her at email@example.com
Scherezade Siobhan – Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org
All the three mental health professionals promise to promptly address your concerns.