Our guest for this episode is Dr. Era Dutta, a Psychiatrist, consultant neuropsychiatrist, and founder of Mind Wellness. She belongs to a younger generation of Psychiatrists who use technology to its maximum capacity and constantly work on creating awareness through various social media platforms. She has been covered by leading newspapers, radio channels, and magazines on her views about mental health issues and an active committee member of the executive council of the Indian Psychiatric society
This is a summarized transcript of the podcast.
Q.no 1- Do you see an uptick in clients coming to you for anxiety and depression-related problems?
Ans – Yes. In my online consultations, the patients with stress, anxiety, and worry, have increased. I mean the tension; the mental health stress is palpable due to the COVID situation. I would like to say that a big part of this is because our routines have gone for a toss. We don’t know when we wake up or when we go to sleep and everything in between, for that matter. At this point, more individuals may be coming to me with their mental health issues. Still, not everyone has a diagnosis, so not everyone might have a clinical diagnosis of, let’s say, anxiety or depression. What they or most people are facing are called mental health issues, so it could be the feeling of helplessness about the present situation or an overwhelming feeling of uncertainty. It could also be relationship issues because you’re staying with your partners and your family members 24/7. There’s also widespread concern about washing hands often gets mistaken for OCD, but it isn’t. People, in general, are worried about their health, the health of a loved one, and being suspected of the infection. The biggest issue for which I am approached nowadays is the sleep issues faced by clients and individuals.
Q.no 2: As a psychiatrist, do you see yourself using technology more now? And if you do, can you tell us how you use it?
Ans – Yes, I’d like to believe that I’m a new generation, up-to-date, almost Tech-Savvy Psychiatrist. Technology has certainly made things a lot easier when dealing with mental health issues. Technology is the need of the hour. The upsides of technology can be- connecting us to a larger audience through a webinar, through social media, allowing patients and clients to consult with us while staying at home, avoiding unnecessary travel and wait time, and so on. So, this is how I’m using technology these days. It helps me in my therapy sessions, scheduling appointments, and doing many psychological tests as well. But with great power comes great responsibility, and I believe there’s a flip side to technology as well. I’ve faced internet connectivity issues, loss in communication, or just not having the same emotional or human feel with E-consultations. Telemedicine/telepsychiatry norms are another caveat that is forever evolving and still being developed in our country for patient and doctor safety. So, that’s how we use technology carefully.
Q.no-3 What changes do you see in your practice now during this pandemic, and what do you think the mental health landscape will look like when we see the new normal?
Ans – So, I’m a big optimist at heart. The biggest change that I have seen so far in the mental health landscape is acceptance. Whether it’s during the pandemic or with each passing year, I believe more people are opening their hearts and minds to accept that mental health is important. As psychiatrists and mental health professionals, we’ve always faced the elephant in the room that is the stigma. But in this pandemic, I found more people vocal accepting that they’re on this emotional roller coaster ride. These are the ways to normalize saying that feeling board is ok. There were campaigns on social media saying #itsok. Many people were sharing that they finally have time to connect with themselves and their loved ones. Many people are voicing that they’re going for therapy during lockdown simply because they have more time. So, they’re working on themselves with professional insights, so that way, I see nothing but a bright future for the mental health task.
Q.no-4 What advice can you give to aspiring students entering the mental health space now?
Ans- If you’re planning to enter the mental health space now, welcome to the club. We need more mental health Ninja Warriors. One of the things which still resonates with me the most is a WHO study. According to the Global Burden of Disease survey, by the year 2030, major depression will be second only to ischemic heart diseases. This is unfolding in front of our eyes, which means more mental health professionals are needed.
A word of advice if you’re joining the mental health space, please always remember to take care of yourselves as well. So, while you take care of others, do not ignore your own mental health needs. Other than that, please make sure that even if you’re not entering the mental health space, always try to spread facts and not myths about mental health.