mid-day editorial: Don't ignore the importance of mental healing

The massacre of a Thane family by their only son has left everyone reeling in shock, but none more so than the youngest sister, who was the sole survivor and watched her brother slit the throats of all 14 members of her family with a sacrificial knife. She was the only one who did not drink the spiked cold drinks he offered to everyone, and so was the only one conscious at the time.

After witnessing the murder of her parents, sisters, nieces and nephews and even her infant daughter, 21-year-old Sobiya Bharmal fought off her killer brother and locked herself into a room, screaming for help. Neighbours came to her aid and took her to hospital to treat the gash on her neck and face.

But aside from medical treatment for her physical injuries, Sobiya will need extensive counselling to for the intense mental and emotional trauma she has suffered. It is imperative that her husband — whose life was spared as he was not part of the gathering — recognise this trauma and enlist the help of counsellors or a mental health centre or NGO to help her.

Often, we see that victims of any kind of trauma are treated for physical trauma but their mental anguish is neglected, either because they do not have access to counselling or because they do not feel an immediate need to address it through counselling. We have to be willing to recognise Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and treat it effectively. This could be a long process, but is a necessary one, so that it becomes easier for survivors to continue with some semblance of normalcy.

One can only imagine just how scarred Sobiya must be and how difficult it will be for her to deal with what she has witnessed. Even with the best intentions in the world, laymen won’t be able to cope with her memories, nightmares and problems post this massacre. It is best that professionals deal with the situation.

It’s not just in this situation, but across the board that we should pay more attention to mental recovery and ensure the healing process for survivors is a holistic process that addresses both mind and body.

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