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Peers to the rescue

Shamin Mehrotra from Ummeed talks about the power of peer support in coping with mental health issues among teenagers

A lot of teenagers struggle with their emotional well-being. They are not necessarily diagnosed with mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, but need some sort of help. In such a situation, peer support really works well.

One of the kids I worked with wanted to get into a specific design school. She was struggling with anxiety. Then I met a colleague in Pune and her daughter had got into this same design school. Even she went through spells of anxiety. I got the both of them in touch. They hit it off together so well. Her experiences helped my client in more ways than one.  

I’ve been with Ummeed, which is a counseling centre for kids aged 0-18, for 14 years. One of the things that we do is building a community where we encourage people to talk to each other and share their experiences. When other teens share their experience of being depressed or bullied with other teens, it is very empowering.

But how do you know if a teenager needs professional help?

There is a difference between experiencing something and then it becoming a diagnosable condition. For instance if someone dies in your family, you are going to feel sad. If that persists for say one year and you’re unable to socialize with people, then that is a diagnosable condition. Before an exam, you might feel anxious, but if you’re so anxious that you’re not able to get out of your house because of that, then it can be a problem.

Simply put, if the anxiety comes in the way of your daily functioning, then it becomes a problem.

Therapy in our country is considered stigmatized. But that is necessary. We use narrative therapy where we ask questions. We are facilitators. We ask questions to teenagers facing several issues and figuring out a solution for them. Therapy is about give and take. It takes a significant amount of time for me to trust you, for you to trust me, to feel comfortable.

How Teentalk will be helpful for teenagers

The website is a starting point to recognize teenagers who want to reach out. The fact that yellow pages have contact details of therapists will give teenagers resources to reach out for professional help.

If you have a story to share, Email it to us HERE.

If you have a query, Email it to us HERE.

You can also chat with the counsellor by clicking on Teentalk Expert Chat.

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Disclaimer: TeentalkIndia does not offer emergency services and is not a crisis intervention centre, if you or someone you know is experiencing acute distress or is suicidal/self harming, please contact the nearest hospital or emergency/crisis management services or helplines.