Being a psychotherapist, mindfulness and self-care comes relatively easy to Bengaluru’s Meera Haran Alva. In the past few months, however, all her skills have been put to the test. With complaints regarding stress, depression and other mental health problems increasing among her clients because of the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic, Alva often finds herself exhausted by the long working hours. The not-so-smooth transition to online consultation because of poor internet connectivity has added to the tiredness.
“Internet breaks interrupt the pace of the session, which leaves me and the client frustrated. We are mindful of the frustration. I experience screen fatigue after just four sessions. This was not the case before and I am grieving the loss of in-person sessions,” says Alva.
Alva is not the only mental health expert facing these problems. More than 62% therapists admitted experiencing varied levels of caregiver fatigue in a nationwide survey of 159 mental health experts, conducted by Bengaluru-based NGO Suicide Prevention India Foundation (SPIF) in June.
The transition to online working, working from home and juggling family responsibilities along with sessions, has added to the pressure on psychotherapists, says Dherandra Kumar, president-elect, Indian Association of Clinical Psychologists.
Roma Kumar, co-founder of online consulting platform Emotionally, agrees that the current situation has taken a toll on therapists as well. “Clients are quite demanding and there are times I have been in a state of constant worry. Therapists are trained to be caring and compassionate but they are also going through emotional fatigue, exhaustion and burnout, especially the young therapists,” explains Kumar.