A Conversation with Consultant Psychologist Dr. Sreystha Beppari on Youth Mental Health

28 March,2023 07:10 PM IST |  Mumbai  |  BrandMedia

Dr. Sreystha Beppari is a Consultant Psychologist who is on a mission to destigmatize mental health issues in India.

Dr. Sreystha Beppari

With an impressive background that includes a Masters* degree, a Ph.D. in Psychology, and multiple awards from esteemed ministries, Dr. Beppari has become a prominent figure in the field of mental health.

As a veteran behavioural trainer, she has worked with various academic and corporate institutions, sharing her expertise and knowledge on mental health issues. Her workshops are highly sought after and regularly conducted on prestigious platforms, earning her a reputation as a leading authority on the subject.

Dr. Beppari*s passion for empowering women is evident in her work, and she was recognized for her efforts with the prestigious Saraswati Dadasaheb Phalke award.

She is frequently invited to speak on mental health and behavioural skills at renowned organizations.

Her ultimate goal is to create more awareness about the risks associated with untreated emotional issues and depression-related challenges faced by individuals. She firmly believes that mental health should be prioritized and that it is essential to work with various Ministries in India to ensure greater well-being for all.

Today she sits down with us for a tête-à-tête with us and discusses the impact of stress and other factors on the health of the youth -

Q1 - Suicides are raising at an alarming rate among the youth. Do you think stress plays a role here?

A - Suicide is a complex issue that is influenced by multiple factors. While stress is a common trigger for suicidal thoughts and behaviors, it is not the sole cause. The age group most vulnerable to suicide is between 14 and 24 years old. This period is marked by significant hormonal changes, societal shifts, and changes in education systems, all of which can contribute to feelings of overwhelm and hopelessness.

In today*s society, students face immense pressure and expectations from various sources, such as academic achievement, social status, and familial obligations. This pressure can be overwhelming, especially when coupled with the challenges of establishing a personal identity and navigating peer relationships. Such experiences are crucial to the formative years of a child*s life, and parents have a critical role to play in supporting their child*s mental health and well-being.

Negative reinforcement, such as criticism and punishment, can have adverse effects on a child*s self-worth and may contribute to feelings of hopelessness and despair. It is essential for parents to provide positive reinforcement and support their child*s sense of self-worth to mitigate the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Q2 - What is the impact of a broken family on a child*s mental and emotional health - as a leading cause of youth suicide?

The impact of a broken family or divorce on a child*s mental health can be significant and long-lasting. Children often experience a range of emotions during and after a divorce, including sadness, anger, anxiety, and confusion. These emotions can manifest in a variety of ways, such as difficulty concentrating, withdrawal from friends and family, and changes in appetite and sleep patterns.

One of the most significant impacts of divorce on children*s mental health is the feeling of loss and instability. Children may feel as if their world has been turned upside down, and their sense of security and stability has been shattered. This can lead to feelings of abandonment, rejection, and even guilt, especially if the child believes they played a role in the divorce.

Q3- In that context, what do you think can be the impact of undiagnosed trauma on the child?

Without treatment, repeated childhood exposure to traumatic events can affect the brain and nervous system and increase health-risk behaviors (e.g., smoking, eating disorders, substance use, and high-risk activities). This also leads to self-harm, mostly among young girls.

Q4 - What is your advice for parents then? Because all of this stems from the way they bring up their children?

A - You see, parenting is also a full-time job. And the thing with jobs is that you enter them after training and detailed know-how. But we become parents by default and we venture into it notably knowing how to raise a child. And oftentimes, parents try to impose their unfulfilled expectations on their children. Parents should understand that a child is not their extension, but a separate living human allowed to have his/her idea and thoughts.

Q5 - What do you think is the role of technology in amplifying or worsening the mental health of the youth?

Technology can have both positive and negative effects on the mental health of youth. On one hand, technology can provide access to information and resources related to mental health, such as mental health apps, online support groups, and teletherapy sessions. However, technology can also contribute to mental health problems in youth. For example, social media can create pressure to present a perfect image and compare oneself to others, leading to feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, and depression. Excessive screen time can also lead to disrupted sleep patterns, which can contribute to mood problems.

Overall, it is important to recognize that technology can have both positive and negative effects on the mental health of youth. It is important to use technology mindfully and in moderation and to be aware of its potential negative impacts.

Q6 - So how can the youth regulate their emotions?

A - I use a term called the ‘emotional helmet* Youth can use this to protect themselves from the myriad of emotions they face on a daily basis by filtering and weeding out the ones that influence them the most. Additionally, they should maintain a proper diet and not underestimate the role of good food in regulating their emotions. You are what you eat, after all. And also take good sleep and consume lots of water. And the most important is to leave your phone in another room when you sleep so that you do not have the temptation to scroll endlessly at night.

Q7 - Life is unpredictable. How do you suggest the youth navigate the uncertainties of life?

A - Resilience. The ability to bounce back after a failure or uncertain event. As a society, we are so hell-bent on celebrating success and growth that we leave no room for failures. And that is unhealthy. Success comes after failures. We have to incorporate the value of resilience in our kids so that they and their nervous systems can battle failures and bounce back with lessons - that*s how we as a human race survived evolution.

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