We’re living in a world where, on the one hand, we are trying to move towards a progressive approach to everything while, on the other hand, things still seem pretty dark in certain aspects. Starting a conversation on mental health is one such sphere where, even though we’re taking a few steps in the right direction, the pace and impact of it is still low. Mental health illnesses are still considered a taboo in many societies where even a simple conversation on the topic is unheard of.
As part of our pursuit to spread awareness on the importance of mental health and well-being, we got together with neuropsychiatrist Dr Era Dutta. We spoke to Dr Dutta about different issues within the larger ambit of mental health and how to handle some of the most common problems.
What to do when people don’t see mental health issues as illnesses
We began our chat by asking Dr Dutta about the prevailing mindset in society which doesn’t look at mental health problems as illnesses. “People always go by what they can see with their eyes,” Dr Dutta said. “Physical health is so visible and it’s right in front of you; if you break a bone you can see a crack on the x-ray. When it comes to mental health sadly, because it’s abstract, it’s within us – people don’t take it seriously. But in the last ten years, things have gotten better. I like to see the positive in this and people are getting more aware.”
What are the different kinds of mental health professionals?
A lot of times people are often confused about the role of different mental health professionals and whom to approach. Dr Dutta explained the differences between a therapist, counsellor, psychiatrist, and a psychologist by talking about the educational requirements for each of them.
“All of them are mental health specialists and in different degrees, they can all help for sure,” she said. “So, don’t worry about who you go to first, but just go to someone – that’s my request.”
She further added that a psychiatrist “is somebody who has been to medical school, finished five and a half years of MBBS, after which they get into a post-graduate programme, and that’s when they become a qualified specialist. A psychiatrist is able to prescribe, diagnose, do therapy, and pretty much do everything.” Dr Dutta then explained that a psychologist “could be somebody with not a medical degree but who did graduation and maybe post-graduation in psychology.” She also said a psychologist can diagnose to a certain extent but cannot prescribe medication.
How does one approach the correct professional?
With a clearer picture on the different kinds of mental health professionals, we then asked Dr Dutta about the ways in which someone could decide on which professional would be best for them. She suggested starting the process by writing down a list of concerns. Writing down your challenges helps put things in perspective, she explained. When you do decide to go to a particular mental health professional, Dr Dutta recommends going with an open mind and no preconceived notions.
To know more about mental health and listen to our simple, candid conversation with Dr Era Dutta, head to All About Eve’s Instagram.