Mental health expert Dr Chandni Tugnait: A sound mind is a human right
By NCVC Staff | Published on Sep 29, 2023
She was a year and a half years old when her father, a national-level shooter, was struck by a physical ailment due to which he collapsed before a championship. What followed was 7 years of bedridden suffering. Growing up, seeing her father struggle for a better life every day, left a profound impact on Dr Chandni Tugnait, who then decided she would become a doctor, a facilitator of change and transformation.
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She became bent on picking up a field that not only helps people in their overall mental well-being. That’s how she felt naturally gravitated towards the study of psychology, psychotherapy, mental health and different forms of healing modalities.
Mental health is one topic that is spoken about in hushed whispers. Even though the world has started to embrace change and has become vocal about mental health issues, there is still a long way to go. The stigma around mental health is being dismantled by practitioners such as Dr Chandni Tugnait.
Health Shots got in touch with the expert for an interview to get deeper insights into her journey and her work as a mental wellness coach.
Why is mental health still taboo?
In her opinion, the reasons why mental health is still a taboo are dime a dozen- from lack of acceptance due to social conditioning, to stigma and discrimination around mental health issues to fear of being judged. A lot of times, there is a lack of awareness around how people have started accepting anxiety and stress as normal.
She recounts how when she began her journey as a healer and coach around 12 years ago, people mocked her choice. Her parents let her follow her heart and she went ahead and sought certification in the courses she wanted to pursue.
5 reasons why mental health needs to be prioritized
According to Dr Chandni Tugnait, the expert says these are the top 5 reasons why mental health should be a priority these days.
1. Bad mental health amounts to bad physical health
“Bad mental health can have a significant impact on physical health leading to a range of symptoms like gastric issues, acidity, numbness, irritation and insomnia,” she adds.
2. Poor mental health hampers productivity
Hampered mental health impacts one’s ability to work, and leads to decreased focus, productivity and even absenteeism at work.
3. Impacts relationships
An individual is only able to form relationships based on sound mental health. So, to develop stronger and healthier relationships, keeping your mental health first is the way.
4. Has a societal impact
One’s bad mental health has an impact on society as well, leading to increased healthcare costs, decreased productivity and greater social inequality.
5. Good mental health is a human right
Every individual has the right to lead a healthy and more fulfilled life by getting access to mental health care services.
Even though there is a lot of chatter on social media around mental health, it isn’t as glittery as it seems. Surely, there is a rise in people coming forward to seek help from professionals. However, they come with a lot of inhibited fears, and they are still sceptical about sharing the same issues with their family for the fear of being ridiculed or judged, says Dr Tugnait. Even though confidentiality is an integral part of the profession, many people still come and press on that since they don’t feel comfortable sharing about their state with a loved one, she reveals.
Difference between psychotherapists, psychiatrists and psychologists
Helping us understand the difference between psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and psychologists, Dr Tugnait shares that they are all mental health professionals, but they differ in their education, training and approach to treatment. A psychologist is someone who has completed a doctoral degree in psychology and is trained in the assessment, treatment and diagnosis of mental health treatment, and they use a lot of CBT techniques to improve the mental health of their clients.
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the treatment of mental health conditions, and they are trained in both the psychological and biological aspects of mental health and can prescribe medications to help manage the symptoms. They might omit using ‘talk therapy’ in their treatment.
A psychotherapist is someone who specializes in ‘talk therapy’, and they could have different levels of education. They could use a combination of techniques like CBT, psychodynamic therapy, and interpersonal therapy to help individuals improve their mental health.
Dr Chandni Tugnait reveals how she manages her own mental health
On being asked how she keeps up with her own mental health since this is something people rarely ask mental health caregivers, she says, “People assume us to be superheroes who can never have any issue. However, they forget that we can get issues too. We also go through an upheaval of emotions from time to time. The only difference is that after years of practice, we have mastered the art of managing it all. Sleep plays a pivotal role in helping keep my mental health under check, and I am mindful of the sleep I get because that can have a direct impact on how I assist my clients. Alongside, I am always open to continuous learning, growth, and development because that gives me the confidence to treat my clients in improved ways. Also, I do make sure to take out time for myself once a month to be with my friends and enjoy that sacred space where I am just myself. Lastly, over the years, I have learned to form healthy boundaries with my clients.”
Also read: 10 ways to improve mental health if you don’t wish to seek therapy
The change our country needs
Lastly, she says that to reduce the amount of depression and suicide cases in our country, we need to adhere to a multifaceted approach. Mental health services should be made readily accessible to all as many people still don’t receive the care they need due to barriers like costs, stigma, and lack of access. Secondly, we can improve awareness and education about mental health in the country. Also, we can address the social determinants of mental health – poverty, trauma and discrimination which all increase the risk of mental health. Lastly, we can form a community or a safe space where people feel more open to talking about their issues.