Devaraj Moothoosamy is a mental health professional specializing in psychological counselling in varied contexts, strongly driven by a philosophy of wellbeing. With a rich professional parcours spanning the corporate environment and social contexts, he is right now offering mental health consultancy services for corporate and social organizations as well as counselling services to private individuals.
The last three years have seen people experiencing change at an unprecedented level. COVID-19 has shaken the world deeply and thoroughly and consequently bringing to the surface a host of psychological implications. Prior to the first lock down, generations living today in Mauritius and in many parts of the world had never really been faced with situations where they are confined to homes for long periods of time with reduced social interaction and disrupted activities. Adding to that, the tremendous uncertainty and fear that the early wave of COVID-19 ushered has been and is somehow still a major stressor for many. Rare has been the time when people have been brought to rethink fundamental life questions. This persistent overwhelming stress has over time manifested into many forms; work-life imbalances, impaired personal relationships, traumatic bereavement, and continued uncertainties in relation to life. All this has simmered an accrued interest in mental health, which was hitherto relegated to secondary considerations. But what precisely is mental health?
Mental health could simply be explained as enjoying sound levels of emotional, psychological and social well-being. Having good mental health means being able to cope with life’s stressors, relate to others in a balanced way and make healthy choices. Mental health is broadly the way in which we think, feel and act. It is good to note that poor mental health and mental illness, though used interchangeably as terms, do not mean the same thing; a person with poor mental health might not necessarily have a mental disorder and a person diagnosed with a mental disorder might enjoy periods of emotional, psychological and social well being. It is important, therefore, for people to gauge when something is wrong and seek appropriate solutions to remedy. The importance placed on mental health should equal that of physical health, for instance, depression could increase manifold the risk of developing many physical health problems, especially chronic issues such as diabetes and heart disease while similarly the presence of chronic health conditions could heighten the risk of developing mental illness.
The professional space is often where people spend a good portion of time, juggling between many skills, interpersonal dynamics and pressure based on deliverables. Adjusting to such an environment is practically always a work in progress with different individuals coping differently based on their nature, temperament and ability to adapt to evolving environments. In such a context, changes present themselves as major stressors to an already stressful environment. If individuals are not equipped with coping skills to manage the stress, mental health takes a toll. Recent changes in work style due to COVID 19 is a vivid example of such additional stressors. Organizations could be major players in providing mentally healthy spaces for employees to thrive. However, proceeding in an appropriate manner is imperative for mental health programs to be efficient and effective. As a mental health professional, I lay a lot of emphasis on a process known as psychoeducation, which is an evidence-based approach that has the purpose to explain to individuals about the different ways in which psychological components work together with emotional and social aspects to create experiences. Psychoeducation is a first step towards helping individuals understand their functioning and equally a great step in ushering forth self-development and self-care. Bespoke mental health programs based on needs of organizations is the effective way forward so that a level of optimum wellbeing is reached and maintained.
Through very innovative means, today mental health programs or counselling sessions both for groups and individuals are today much more accessible. Tele-counselling is one of the things COVID19 has rendered possible and fortunately, individuals are steadily approaching professionals for help. A lot of work remains to be done to reduce stigma and open up the possibilities of living life to the fullest and most healthy extent.