To break the ice and start counselling on a positive note, psychotherapist and trauma therapist, Hvovi Bhagwagar, gives her patients a handout with Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about counselling. It addresses concerns that people may have about counselling being expensive, only for the “mad” patients, the confidentiality levels and their relationship with their counsellors.

Bhagwagar adds that her female to male patient ratio is 80:20 and admits that she has had male clients drop out. “Males feel they are strong and should be able to deal with any problem. They are more likely to keep problems to themselves and search for solutions from books or on the Internet. In Asian cultures, we believe in being stoic and handling problems on our own. I have several male dropouts in therapy because of the teasing or disapproval from family members about a ‘man needing therapy’. Similarly, several patients waited for years to attend therapy because they feared being looked down upon by their family,” she says.

All experts, however, advise patients to persist with therapy for long-term benefits. “Since we are residing in a country with the highest suicide rate (which is highest among males) it’s time we sat up and took notice about the declining mental health of our population,” observes Bhagwagar.

Featured in Mid-Day, December 11, 2012.