Where do mental health professionals go when they need help?

Objectivity of a mental health expert can be compromised when they get too involved with their clients and their problems. Photo: iStock

For Dr Pramila (name changed), a psychiatrist with nearly 15 years of experience, a counselling session with her friend once a month is a must. But it is a session with a difference — Pramila is the client here, and she just seeks company to vent her emotions or talk about professional problems.

Mental health professionals deal with emotional exhaustion and empathy-induced stress when dealing with their clients. Sometimes, guilt and overcrowded schedules also burden them. So where do psychologists and psychiatrists go when their mental health takes a turn for the worse? Support groups formed by their peers might provide a solution for the occupational hazard.

Pramila says she realised the need for a one-on-one with a professional after a tryst with one of her older clients who suffered from depression.

She explains, “The patient was in her 80s and the time I spent treating her turned out to be a moment of epiphany. She made her realise the need to pay heed to her burnout.” The patient’s consultation — the last one scheduled for the day — turned out to be more difficult than ever. “She kept telling me there was no reason to live. I tried telling her she had many reasons to live longer — for her family and many things she was thankful for,” says Pramila. “But she begged me to not broach the subject and I finally said okay. It was the last time I saw her and in a month, she passed away.”

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