Parents stand tall like brave soldiers, protecting their kids with their heads held high. As our shield, they take the bullets for us. As our lighthouse, they steer us through the darkest rainstorms. Always smiling, and sometimes reprimanding us so that we don’t go astray. Without faltering, they have had our backs for years, unconditionally; from staying up all night when we’re sick to rushing to school with our forgotten lunchbox. They have been our shield through and through. But even the bravest soldiers bleed, and the brightest lighthouses flicker. It’s our job to ensure they get the right help at the right time.

With a little bit of patience and empathy, you can help your parents heal. (Unsplash )

The older generations don’t jell well with therapy. Rooted in the traditional frameworks of a collectivistic society, they get worked up with ‘what others will think.’ As a society that still raises eyebrows and hushes mental health conversations, parents are conditioned to condemn therapy, claiming they are reserved only for the ‘mad.’ The stigma is so deeply entrenched that it prevents many from seeking the help they need. And these perturbing emotions are shoved under the carpet every day until they swell and swallow the entire room. It’s okay not to be okay, even for our unwavering guardians. Here’s how you can encourage them to seek professional help.

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Nothing wrong with therapy

When you propose the idea of therapy, they feel ridiculed. They may perceive it as ‘wasteful’, regarding therapy as ‘unsolicited advice.’ Their generation is firmly attached to their beliefs and they may be more stubborn than we were in childhood. However, it is important to be patient and explain the benefits of therapy, likening it to a regular health checkup.

Open their eyes

Their resistance stems from denial and shame. To get through this wall of nonchalance they build around them, approach with empathy and understanding. Address the symptoms you’ve observed, such as insomnia, loss of interest in hobbies, or anxiety. Highlight how therapy can effectively alleviate these issues which they deliberately choose to overlook. By confronting the elephant in the room, they can gain a new perspective, seeing it from a third person’s point of view. Humans often critique themselves harshly but show greater compassion towards others. This shift in perspective could help them understand the value of seeking professional help and begin to consider therapy as a positive step toward reclaiming their well-being.

Validate them

Therapy is a journey that is daunting to walk alone. Acknowledge their fears and assure them. Speak to them about what to expect if you have been to therapy, or if not, then connect them to someone from your family who has been. When your parents hear the experiences of familiar people, they will feel less alone.

Reiterate the confidentiality of therapy

Conversations about feelings is uncharted territory in desi families, triggering a sense of unsettling vulnerability and fear of judgment. Throughout history, this insecurity has restrained individuals’ ability to be truly free. In therapy, opening up to a stranger is dreadful, maybe for the first time, even acknowledging these turbulent emotions. But you need to explain how privacy and confidentiality are the core principles of therapy. With regular assurance, they will feel confident enough to seek help.

Don’t force it

Your parents’ readiness should be honoured. Pushing them when they’re not ready can boomerang and worsen their situation. Respecting their autonomy empowers them to make their own choices. You do not get to choose for them. Trust is the only key to handle this situation smoothly. If there’s enough trust and open dialogue, they’ll be more likely to consider therapy, knowing you’re there to support them. Our job is to plant the seed; now it’s up to them whether they are willing to water it and let it germinate into the shade of relief.

 

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