In conversation with Fahima Rashid on various aspects related to Mental Health

Fahima Rashid is a Counselling Psychologist and has a forte in dealing with children and adolescents emotional and behavioural difficulties and parenting. She has dealt with the cases of depression, poor self-esteem, conflicts with parents, anxiety, self-harm, peer pressure, anger, etc. She is dedicated to the cause of promoting Mental Health Awareness. She is also associated with ‘Nuture life’, an N.G.O., which works for the cause of children and women’s mental health. She has been interviewed by EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador Simranjeet Kaur who is currently pursuing law from MNLU Aurangabad.

For her Video Interview, click HERE

  1. Please introduce yourself to our readers.

I have pursued my Post-Graduation in Clinical Psychology from Mumbai University. I have also done my Diploma in Counselling Psychology from St. Xavier’s Institute of Counselling Psychology, Mumbai. I am also a registered Career Mentor under BCPA (Bhartiya Counselling Psychology Association). I have also worked at KEM Hospital, Mumbai as a HIV Counsellor. Thereafter, I worked as a school counsellor in couple of schools in Mumbai. And then, here in Lucknow, I am also working as a school counsellor.

I am committed to work for the mental health of children. And, I am striving to create this awareness about replacing the traditional parenting/discipline parenting to a more conscious and a wholistic one.

2. What inspired you to become a Counselling Psychologist?

I didn’t know anything about Psychology when I had opted for this subject in class 11. I was a very weak student in my school days and was always promoted with the grace marks.But then I overcame my inferiorities by excelling in other things like, I wanted to take up challenging tasks. So, I decided to take up Psychology, though I didn’t even know what was it all about. But, gradually, when my curiosity increased in the subject and when I completed my Post-Graduation, I realised that mental health is a real issue, it’s a real problem. It’s a grave concern and it is very badly affecting people and they don’t know what to do about it and where to go. So, that began with my journey as a Counselling Psychologist.

3. Do you think continuous success and inability to accept failure prompts suicide?

Continuous success brings reputation, a lifestyle, a standard, a status, a social circle. We are so inclined towards achievement and we are so achievement oriented and we have been always looking for excellence and academics and profession, that we fail to realise that there are certain skills that are required to help us to cope up with failure and accept failure and deal with it. We need to have these skills apart from being excellent in academics and profession. These skills are very important that will help us to cope with failure.

4. What do you think is the role of upbringing in mental health?

Parent’s role is very important in keeping the mental health intact of children and as they grow up into being adults. I believe that mental health issues would decline to a great extent if we nurture and raise our children in a more communicative, compassionate and conscious ways.We as parents, we want our children to be the ‘perfect-ones’, the best and the superstars. So, we try to push them and pressurize them to do and to follow interests that we want them to do. And then we change their contours to fit them into something, what we want them to fit in. But not knowing, not realizing that what damage we are causing to the child. And this idea of perfect kids and superstars and the best kids, it’s not a reality. Children are like sponges. They absorb every bit of an expression, words and behaviours of their parents. And we then force them to behave well. That is absolutely not possible until the child feels better. He cannot behave better. And the good mental health allows the children and the young adults to develop resilience and to cope up with the blows in life. And eventually they turn out to become mentally healthy. So, the role of parents is very important during childhood.

5. How does one’s social environment and eating habits affect their mental health?

Our lifestyle, our gender, our culture, our status, all of these reflects our social environment. Social comes from the word society and society is a collection of people and these people are coming from different families with a set of beliefs and values. We have divided our society as the lower class, middle class and the upper class and each of them have their own societies. Things that are acceptable in one society may not be acceptable in the other society and through our work, the kind of work we do and our interests we can change our social environment. We are pressured to fit into the society because of the “log kya kahenge?” factor which induces a lot of stress and anxiety in us. Talking about the eating habits. Yes, there are a lot of studies that have revealed that eating habits and the diet has an impact on our mental health. As the saying goes, “We are what we eat”. We so much influenced by the Western Cultures, the concept of fast food and junk food and processed food. These foods are rich in carbohydrates and sugar, which increase the risk of depression and anxiety because they release certain chemicals in the brain and depression and anxiety is an imbalance of these chemicals. So, yes, certainly chemical balances can be influenced by the diet.

6. What do you think are the ways to deal with the problems that affect our mental health?

Everyone wants a smooth life. We want a happy life and a hassle-free life, but this is not a reality. Every day we make decisions about mundane things or something more meaningful. Before we take decisions, before we make a plan of action for these decisions, about what we need to do, we want to be certain whether my decision is going to be right or best or good. We want this certainty in life which gives us a feeling of security. Also, it makes us feel in control of the things in our lives. No matter however we run behind or strive towards having certainty in our life, uncertainty is woven in the fabric of nature. You cannot escape uncertainty. People who are able to tolerate uncertainties, live a better life. The other thing is, frustration and tolerance. You get frustrated when you are not able to achieve something or when our needs are not being met. Needs such as, emotional, physical or materialistic needs. You get frustrated, and when we get frustrated there are certain thoughts that come to our mind, like, I did not get this. I did not achieve this. I want to have this. I did not have this. But this point of time, you know, in this situation, gratitude plays a very important role in bringing peace within yourself.

7. Meditation/Yoga/Physical Activities/Extra-curricular Activities help improve our mental health. Your take on this statement.

The purpose of yoga is to attain flexibility, to improve your breath, to relax your mind. Yoga and meditation are very helpful to reduce anxiety and stress. It also brings about self-awareness and self-regulation. So, with this relaxed and calm state of mind, we can think better and act better.

8. How far do electronic devices affect our physical and mental health?

Electronic devices are getting very common nowadays. And one thing that comes to my mind is the use of smart phones. There are billions of smartphone users. It has become an important part of our lives and has become our companion. We cannot live without it. It has a lot of side effects. It has affected our attention and has made us more irritable. It has affected our focus on important tasks. The need for instant gratification, is making us less tolerant. These are some of the side effects of electronic devices on our mental and physical health like, sleep disturbances, irritation in the eyes, dryness of eyes, poor retention span, all these things are being affected by the excessive use of electronic devices.

9. So much of trigger and pressure that people are unable to deal with their circumstances which leads to suicide. How can this be controlled?

Everyone has a different capacity to bear with the stress. Some may have more; some may have less. The fact is that everyone has some capacity to bear with stress. Along with this capacity, what is important is our response and reaction to stress. How are we responding and reacting to stress? That will either uproot us or keep us upright. The people who have recurrent thoughts of suicide or have the thoughts of ending their lives are always feeling hopeless, helpless, lonely and worthless. It is very important for such people to have a very good support system. This is very important, to fall back on something. The next point is that if someone comes to you, expressing their feelings about ending one’s life or talking about this,don’t discount their feelings. They perceive their feelings to be very serious, it may not be for you,but it is definitely for them. Listen, without judging, without minimizing their problems or without shaming. Identify the warning signals. The warning signs of a suicidal person. There are certain signs that you have to check out for, like, change in the eating and sleeping pattern. There will be persistent mood swings.He may lose interest in things that he used to, once, enjoy. There will be social withdrawal from family, friends, talking about death. So, all these things you need to check out for. Lastly, you can refer them to a professional immediately.

10. What, in your opinion, is the most important quality in a Counselling Psychologist?

To be able to be a good Counselling Psychologist would be able to connect with his clients and understand what and how a person is going through and what is he feeling. And this is only possible when he himself has done his self-awareness and introspected into his own values and beliefs, that will help him to empathize, understand and reflect on his feelings. So, it very important that you first be self-aware and then you can connect or it will be easy to connect with the client.

11. As a Counselling Psychologist, what have you learnt from your patients?

I have seen a pattern in the cases that I have across, that we are so casual when we talk to others, that we are not conscious of what words we are using and how are we saying. And, this could really have a damaging effect on the other person. These words can even spoil the relationships. We cover up our hurt, our resentments and we want to pass it on to others. The garbage that is thrown onto us, we want to throw it back to someone else. And the cycle goes on. The husband is frustrated because of some work pressures, he comes and removes his frustration on his wife, wife then throws it onto her children and then the child misbehaves in school. So, there is this pattern that keeps going on. We need to realize that if something is not working then we need to take a step back, create that space when you take a step back, be aware and conscious of yourself, don’t be blindfolded about the consequences. Be conscious in that space and try to reflect on what is troubling you and how things are affecting the other person.

12. Would you like to convey anything to our readers?

Don’t ignore your mental health. It is as important as the physical health. Don’t feel shy to seek a professional help. Mental Health is the way we think, feel and behave. We need to develop certain skills and characteristics to keep our mental health intact. Like, develop a sense of contentment, gratification, resilience, ability to bounce back, ability to laugh and have fun, ability to have meaningful relationships with others, be able to adapt to changes and be flexible in learning new skills. Along with this, yoga, meditation, adequate sleep and a proper diet will help us to have a good mental health.


One comment

  • The warning signs of a suicidal person. There are certain signs that you have to check out for, like, change in the eating and sleeping pattern. There will be persistent mood swings.He may lose interest in things that he used to, once, enjoy. There will be social withdrawal from family, friends, talking about death. So, all these things you need to check out for. Lastly, you can refer them to a professional immediately.

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