With PTSD surfacing among adults and children alike, counsellors in the city get ready to do something about it
THE sun had set when the water rose in the city. And overnight people realised plush homes and a healthy bank account meant nothing when a natural calamity struck. Though everyone’s back to work now, the memories are refusing to fade. “Several corporates have noticed that their employees are exhibiting symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. They are unable to focus on work, have depression, panic attacks and mood swings,” states Magdalene Jeyarathnam, director of East West Centre for Counselling. With calls for therapists increasing, counsellors are creating month-long or six-week capsules to help people at their offices. “It is interesting to see that, with the rehabilitation phase beginning, people are looking at psychological support as part of the services given,” adds Jeyarathnam, who believes that as a community-oriented people, group sessions are highly beneficial. “Telling your story is important. The release of emotions—through tears or anger—gives catharsis and having witnesses validates your feelings,” she says.
The Banyan is spearheading another initiative, which will give them access to larger numbers of people. “We are going to involve lay counsellors and provide them skills to handle people with psycho-social distress in their own communities,” explains Dr KV Kishore Kumar, director of the NGO and a consulting psychiatrist. The counselling will be done at their 17 outreach clinics, in areas like Mogappair, Loyola and KK Nagar. “Our post graduate students and workers are out in the field now, identifying people and communities that need our help,” he says. Describing such distress as an “appropriate reaction to an abnormal situation”, he believes people should resume routines, do meditation and yoga, and share their feelings with somebody. “In this process, the intensity of reaction will gradually disappear,” he adds.
NalandaWay, a non-profit organisation that works with children, has been visiting them at the 130 shelters that had come
up during the floods. Attempts to engage them in various creative activities, to help them channel their emotions, revealed that many were afraid. “We want to work with kids who need psychological support. We plan to organise four-day residential camps in Chennai, Kanchipuram, Cuddalore and Thiruvallur, where we will use art, music, dance and craft as the approach for therapy,” says Sriram Ayer, the founder-CEO. “There will also be counsellors present. The goal is, if they express, there will be relief.” Tentatively planned to start on December 28, you can register or find out more about the workshops by mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Dhananjai Golla, the owner of Evolve Fitness Studio, believes movement therapy will go a long way in helping people deal with PTSD. “Preeta Rajesh is our certified movement therapist and through workshops we will show people how to vocalise better and release their emotions through movement,” he shares. Currently researching areas that need the most help, he plans to conduct mobile workshops—going to where the people need them most. “We are looking at both half-day and one-day workshops,” he says. Details: email@example.com
— Surya Praphulla Kumar