The mind master on call

June is the Pride Month and this LGBTQ activist Kushal Roy expects more calls for help in the coming months, especially from the community on issues such as discrimination and acceptance.

Published: 30th May 2021 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th May 2021 05:51 PM   |  A+A-

Student suicide, stress, pressure, depression

Representational Image. (Express Illustrations)

Express News Service

While most of us are waiting for the pandemic nightmare to get over, Kushal Roy is busy teaching 54321- a grief management technique - to those who seek his counselling on phone. The Kolkata-based psychotherapist also addresses the concerns of those who have Covid-19 vaccine phobia, telling them ways to tackle it.

"Awareness regarding mental health has increased exponentially this May, also the Mental Health Awareness Month. I have been receiving an average of 30 calls a week to discuss various issues," he says.

It is okay not to be okay, he believes. "Fear, uncertainty, lack of motivation, survival guilt—all these are natural to surface, and extremely common during a pandemic situation. It is aggravated by lockdowns and curfews. I am trying to tell people to open up, talk, keep the communication channels open as it makes one feel better," says the 25-year-old. 

Roy offers free counselling through his non-profit organisation called You Are Enough. June is the Pride Month and this LGBTQ activist expects more calls for help in the coming months, especially from the community on issues such as discrimination and acceptance.

"For better mental wellbeing, we have to break the stigma of mental health in society, and shine a light on the positivity and support that should be available for everyone."

The alleged suicide of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput in 2020 made Roy sit up and take notice of the importance of mental health. "I felt the need to use my expertise to help people open up via free counselling to those who really need it," he shares.

After a few months of counselling, Roy sat down to design a module that he thinks helps people get in touch with their true self and resolve issues related to identity crisis, job loss, breakups, coping with death and more.

Most people connect to Roy via his social media channels or through email. The latter is the most common way, as people feel comfortable staying anonymous, he maintains.

However, after a preliminary call or chat, he schedules an exclusive, long chat to help the person with their issues. A typical call lasts for more than an hour. Considering most of us look towards Google for answers, where does mental health counselling stand in India?

"Google may seem like it has answers to all the questions, but it is also the problem. It works via algorithms, and artificial intelligence, which can never beat human intuition in understanding a problem. So, one should always choose a good counsellor over a Google search," he says.

Roy is concerned about how mental wellbeing is often taken lightly and people are told to relax or enjoy their time to stave off depressing thoughts. "Depression is not a joke. Some people show it, some people don’t. But if you listen to them carefully, you can hear their cries for help. Sometimes all you need to do is listen," Roy says.

Depression is real. It can affect anyone irrespective of the social status, income group, career, success, sexuality, religion, political stance, race, creed or other factors. Empathy for those suffering is what society needs. There should be no place for stigma.

Roy is reachable via call and WhatsApp on 9641722948.

Take Note

There is no perfect way or time to reach out for help. Go by your instinct. Sometimes jotting down your thoughts can help, while crying out loud can release pent-up frustration at other times. Writing your feeling down as and when they surface could be constructive. You can also talk to a friend or seek professional help. 

The 54321 method: step by step

  • Look around the room and name five things that you can see around you. Think about how that thing looks to you or what it is that you like or don’t like about it.

  • Focus on four things that you can feel; for example, the wind or the sun on your skin

  • Name three things that you can hear around you; for example birds chirping on a nearby tree

  • Notice two things that you can smell around you right now; for example food from the kitchen

  • Focus on one thing that you can taste. If you can’t taste anything, then name a taste that you like. Think and answer to yourself. 


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