"No One Can Replace the Role of Mental Health Professionals." - Kajal Makwana

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1. Tell us about your background and journey.

I am a young practitioner in the field of mental health, I studied science in my junior college I wanted to pursue the medical field. However, due to some circumstances, I couldn't pursue it. After junior college, I was quite confused as to what is the best field for me. 

I took admission in B.Sc but I was not comfortable in that field. Certainly, confusion leads to the right part of my career. I always had this impulse in me of observing human behavior and understand how well I can go with that person.

The journey of confusion led me to take the Arts field. However, that was not true again after the graduation I was in the confusion phase as to which college is the best for masters in psychology. Again with some research, I could figure out the best college for psychology in Mumbai. 

After selecting the master's program, in the second year for the specification I was confused again whether to choose clinical psychology or counseling psychology. Subsequently again I was in the trap of confusion, I did some research and spoken to a few people and one of my professors encourage me to take counseling psychology. 

I will always be grateful to her, as she suggested the most appropriate domain for me. I strongly feel counseling psychology stream goes well with my personality, interest, and ability, I am very passionate about my field, always inclined towards learning, keen to raise my bar. 

Although this journey of career confusion taught me, there is always a right career for you, with career exploration it is important to trust your intuitions and listen to your inner voice, I think that is the best guidance towards the success. 

Hence, I cannot deny the fact it is important to undergo a career counseling at a teenager phase. 

2. What led you to take up this career path?

As I said, the journey of confusion, exploration, guidance, and trusting my intuitions lead me to this career path.

3. What are some common myths in society about psychology?

The most prominent myths adhering to psychology in India, that there is little scope of psychology. However, that is not true, psychology is a growing field in India. There are many events that have proven the importance of mental health, one of which is the current pandemic time. 

The second myth goes like this, only mad or crazy people visit a psychologist, that is not true, no one is mad or crazy as we have physical health concerns there are also mental health concerns which are invisible wounds. 

However, the effect of that wound can be seen in an individual's thoughts, behavior, emotions, physical symptoms known as psychosomatic symptoms, impairment in daily functioning, loss of interest and appetite and sleep disturbance. 

The third myth goes like, talking to a psychologist is the same as talking to your friends, family or any acquaintances, that isn't true, Psychologists are trained in several talk therapies and other therapies. There is a wide difference to talk to a therapist and share a professional relationship. 

Psychologists don't come from a biased belief, provide non - judgemental safe space, confidential process, explorations of your deep layers of the emotions, and express genuine empathy. Hence, this cannot be provided by any other individual than a psychologist/therapist. 

There is more to the treatment than just a talk therapist. The truth is "No one can replace the role of mental health professionals".

4. How can people practice mindfulness?

Mindfulness is one of the most prominent techniques which is beneficial for your overall wellbeing. It is healthy to practice mindfulness every moment. Mindfulness means being aware of the present moment and things. 

One should be mindful of their present moment while eating food while walking or doing anything for that matter. Increasing the attention of what you do helps you focus and increase productivity. 

Mindfulness practice means being aware of the feelings and sensation in your body while you do something, such as while eating the food, one need pay attention to each bite, feelings that you get as you bite and taste of the food. 

Mindfulness can be practice with meditation as well, there are several types of it such as body scan meditation, observing thoughts meditation and etc. 

5. What are your tips for people who want to practice this profession?

In order to practice psychology as a profession, I would say firstly understand your mental and emotional capacity. There are three main fields in psychology, counseling psychology, clinical psychology, and industrial psychology. 

It is advisable to understand each field in detail not just by reading about it from the available resources but also by talking to the professionals who are practicing actively in the field or opt for career counseling. 

The mental health field is quite sensitive and it requires you to be emotionally and mentally fit, though as with the master's program you will be trained to do so. 

Still, I would suggest understanding your personality, interest, emotional intelligence, and aptitude allow you to opt for psychology if yes, then which type counseling, clinical or industrial. It is essential to introspect and understand your beliefs and biases. 

6. Is work-life balance a myth or reality according to you?

Of course, work-life balance much essential, and everyone should learn to strike a balance between both. One need to understand work is one of the aspects of individual's there are other aspects as well which required some amount of attention. 

I would suggest understanding each aspect of an individual;'s life and divide attention, time, and energy accordingly. If work is overpowering in an individual's life then it will be harmful in the long run and can lead to workaholism and burnout. 

7. How according to you can one manage stress? 

The fact cannot be denied that stress is inevitable. However, how one manages it and willing to work on matters. There are daily stressors and stress due to several adverse life events. If stress is not worked upon then it tends to pile up and can lead to at any extremity of mental and physical health concerns. 

I would advise you to get into a self-care ritual, wherein ensure you add something that helps you relieve stress such as adding meditations, listening to your favorite music, exercise, stretching, yoga or anything that elevates your mood and helps you start your every day on a fresh note and energy.

- Kajal Makwana

- Interviewed By: Anurag Jaiswal