Wednesday, 12 July 2017


 STRESS has been called the Health Epidemic of the 21st Century which if not prevented or coped adaptively, can lead many to Depression and other maladaptive behaviours , irrespective of caste,sex,age or creed. More than 300 million people suffer from Depression worldwide today , that is 5% of the World population 

‘Lack of support for people with mental disorders, coupled with a fear of stigma, prevent many from accessing the treatment they need to live healthy, productive lives’, says the WHO.

 It has been found that about 86% of college students are exhausted mentally today, 30% of students are depressed and unable to function optimally and about 6.6% have contemplated committing suicide.

Why are the children and youth so stressed today? Why are they so depressed, that every day you get to read in the newspapers, of a suicide committed somewhere?
It has been reported that every 4 minutes there is a suicide somewhere in the world! We need to analyse this problem thoroughly and try to find solutions to it.
               Youth are the backbone of the society of every country. Stressed youth are psychologically disturbed and confused. The reasons for this malady are manifold. There is a plethora of information being bombarded upon them from all directions today — the internet, their peers, teachers, media, parents, films, school, all of whom have a different perspective and story to tell. Children find it difficult to differentiate the reel from the real and try to ape the reel, with no one to tell them that it’s all fake and far from reality. The expectations the youth have to face, from their parents, friends, teachers and most importantly their own expectations play a significantly daunting role in stressing themThese expectations may be academic, performance, career, social and many more. Sometimes there are cultural, communication and language barriers which stress them. It may also be something as simple as the the food which is served to them in hostels, which they find unpalatable. Adjustment problems and loneliness are GIANT STRESSORS which can have a devastating effect on them. Comparisons, Competitions , Criticism have a significant role to play in stressing the youth.

All or some of these problems, have a hazardous effect on the psychology of the child, which, if not coped adaptively by them, can lead them to depression ,drug abuse or other risky maladaptive behaviours. I have been to many schools and colleges, in and around DehraDun India,to psycho-educate the students ,about Stress Prevention and Healthy Coping, and I found that many students studying there were from far flung States and remote areas. They were very lonely, and had communication and food problems. They found it difficult to cope with the daily pressures they had to face and many drifted to ‘short term relief measures’ like Drugabuse and Addictions. The lucky ones however, had supportive and intelligent parents,who communicated frequently with them and helped them find solutions to their problems. These children made friends, coped well and were happy.

When parents and teachers have taught their children Resilience and the importance of being in high self-esteem, such children learn healthy coping skills and manage to keep stress at bay. However those who have NOT learnt Resilience or self-esteem from their parents or teachers from their childhood, are often emotionally weak . They are unable to find rational solutions to their problems and get easily stressed, depressed, and may take to mal-adaptive coping like drugs and alcohol abuse or other risky behaviours. Chronic persistent Depression may lead them to suicide! A supportive family background does wonders for the child’s psychology and these children develop a high EQ.

Sadly this is not the scenario today. When distressed or confused children turn to their parents for emotional support and guidance, they often face disappointment and get no help from them. Now this maybe because of a number of reasons. Either the parents are stressed themselves, or lack knowledge of how to EFFECTIVELY communicate or empower their children or are too busy to bother. Such children then instinctively turn to their peers, films, pornography, or drugs for information and solace and end up getting addicted ,depressed or misinformed. I need to add,at this point, that I find the parents today, to be a very confused and stressed lot too, as far as their children are concerned. They feel guilty and depressed .They are in need of counselling’s too.

The need of the hour is AWARENESS of Good, Effective, Happy Parenting Skills by the Parents, support by teachers with empathy and compassion, for the youth, so that they can effectively communicate and bond with the children, as well as empower them with Resilience, self-esteem, healthy coping skills and confidence. Only then can children learn to be happy and stress-free.

There should be awareness and empowerment workshops for the children , in schools and colleges, where they are taught Resilience, assertiveness, self-esteem and Problem Solving Skills. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy works wonders in such cases. It is ALSO very important to remember that children invariably model the behaviour of their parents and teachers. So my advice to both parents and teachers, is to BE, DO AND BEHAVE in the manner they want their children to be,do and behave.
       Let us all get together and save our most precious human resource — our children and youth — from stress depression and suicide. PARIFOUNDATION is working hard to empower youth by spreading awareness about Prevention of Stress and its consequences.It is possible and we can all do it!

Dr.Sona Kaushal Gupta
Neuro-psychologist DehraDun
CBSE Counsellor

Wednesday, 22 March 2017


Mental Illness is a scar on the mind which leaves the person emotionally shattered,and drains him or her of all his mental and physical energy.
While we were growing up,as children, we were all taught by our parents and teachers,how to eat well,how to study well,how to speak well,how to sit properly,how to behave well and so on.But no one ever taught us HOW TO THINK well,what to think or how much to think!
We grew up with all our focus on our physical and behavioral well being.As a result our Mental well being was neglected and there in lies the whole story !
Today Stress and Depression have spread like cancer in the society ,and have taken the shape of an epidemic.There is hardly any family or person who ,in his life time,has not been stressed or who has not seen stress or depression in those near and dear to him.There is some more bad news added to this,that stress has some more devious consequences which can lead one to addictions and suicides.
However there is some good news too!With modern technology,knowledge,technique- s,medicines and therapy ,collectively or selectively,depending on the severity and type of mental illness,it is now possible to prevent stress,or harness/manage the stress.

I emphasize on ‘stress’ because stress is the root cause of all our mental maladies today.Both ,stress and its consequences, like depression and anxiety are hazardous to our mental health.And there is no denying the fact that a good mental health does lead to a good physical health whereas a stressed mind caters to the infamous psychosomatic illnesses of the body.
The keyword to the solution of all these problems is AWARENESS.Adequate Knowledge and  psychoeducation,which empowers a person and once he learns the art of positive and rational thinking,he is able to say NO to stress and other mental illnesses which may ensue.COPING with stressful conditions adaptively helps in preventing its manifestation in our mind,but if it has managed to invade our mind inspite of all our efforts,it is still possible to MANAGE and do away with it,provided we know the techniques to become stress-free.
Children should be taught the art of positive thinking,‘what to think’, and how much to think,in schools.If schools fail to do so, the parents should be well equipped to teach THE RIGHT THINKING SKILLS to their children.There is no denying the fact that in a stress free mind lies the secret to a happy life,which we all look forward to, and which we all envisage for our children.
PARI FOUNDATION has taken up the formidable challenge WITH THE HELP OF TECHNOLOGY AND CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) AND PSYCHO-EDUCATION, as  our tools, of spreading awareness in all sections of society,about the hazards of stress on one’s mental emotional and consequently on our physical health,and how ,with the right way of thinking one can be prevent being stressed.Management of a person in stress is also taught by us,but our main focus is on prevention,which as we all know is the cure and is also better than the cure in this case.
Dr.Sona Kaushal Gupta
Neuro-psychologist and Founder PARI FOUNDATION

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Practice Empathy and Teach it to Children

Practice Empathy and Teach it to Children
Empathy is the ability to read another person’s emotions. In other words it means to try and put yourself in the shoes of the other person, so as to be able to understand what he is feeling or going through emotionally. Many children just do not know the meaning or the art of practicing empathy, because no one has ever explained it or discussed it with them. It is a critical life skill and should be taught to children right from an early age. To be able to understand what your friend is feeling after a fight or to feel the hurt your parents are going through after you have behaved rudely with them, or to feel the emotions of a sick relative,are emotional skills which children are grossly lacking these days. In today’s world of technology, children are so much engrossed in the ‘I, Me or Mine’ phenomenon, that they tend show traits of narcissism in their behaviour. Technology gadgets have taken up most of their time and they have become recluses and loners lost in the world of visual fantasy of social media and their gadgets.
They hardly find time or want to play or share their game or feelings with their friends. Outdoor games are gradually becoming extinct for the children today, as children have no time or interest or energy left for them.. A University of Michigan study of nearly 14,000 college students found that students today have about 40% less empathy than college kids had in the 1980s and 1990s.Children today have NO idea of how to practice empathy and will surely be less happy as adults as a result. Parents need to understand this and need to practice and teach Empathy to their children. Schools should also take initiatives to include Empathy training workshops in their curriculum where children can freely discuss the importance of understanding others emotions. Only then will we be able to make our children more caring , compassionate and empathetic.
Parenting is the most challenging task to master these days. It was a duty so easy and natural for parents, some time back, but today it has become the most formidable task for them. Parents are a confused lot these days. They complain that they are not able to understand their children and vice versa. ‘Empathy’ is an alien word for most of them too. Both parents are working parents these days trying to do their best to rear up their children with all materialistic comforts. As a result parents too are in a lot of stress. They have no time for Empathy or Compassion in their hectic schedule themselves. Then how do we expect such parents to teach such important skills to their kids? It is a wake-up call for all of us. Parents should learn how to be de-stressed and should adopt ‘good, happy parenting skills’ which include Empathy and Compassion .The children are fast learners and will immediately copy or model their parents behavior. They will surely pick up such skills from their parents and involve Empathy and Compassion in their day to day behavior, once they see their elders do it.

Stress and Success are both in the MIND--It is a choice we have to make between the two

Children have stopped playing out in the play grounds anymore,they have stopped enjoying their childhood and it is just school,tuitions,homework and bed for them,each day,day after day.Parents have stopped laughing or socializing--the reason is common for them--both are in stress--children are stressed because their parents are stressed and unknowingly passing on their stress to the children,and parents are stressed because they feel that their children are not as stressed or worried as they should be,keeping in mind their impending exams,careers,their future life--so an and so forth.
The result is that we see frustration,anger,irritation,d- epression everywhere and in nearly everyone,maybe in varying amounts---but all these negative emotions are in all of us. They are like the smog which is seen hanging all over the city, after the crackers had stopped crackling, post Deewali celebrations. WHERE HAS HAPPINESS GONE AND WHY HAS IT DISAPPEARED FROM OUR LIFE SO COMPLETELY? Stress is now an epidemic looming large in all of us, destroying the youth and compelling them to commit suicide,take to drugs and become addicts.
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It is preying into the minds of our children. Something should be done instead of just contemplating and discussing these issues. I decided to catch the Bull by the horns.
PARI FOUNDATION a NGO was founded by like-minded people who understood psychology and yearned to see happy children and youth thrive and work happily at whatever they were doing.We applied the tool of CBT--Cognitive Behaviour Therapy where we empowered and taught people,especially youth how to harness and channelize their major energy resource --their thoughts --in the right way ,in the right amount and in the right direction--to get the desired behaviour and result. This tool, coupled with building up of self-improvement skills like assertive skills, Resilience .Self-esteem,Will power and changing one's perception, works wonders ,and miracles can be achieved.
It is a simple technique--we have to learn how to keep stress at bay and fill our mind with happy thoughts to ensure that we work happily in achieving our goals.The more stress free we are,the better will be the quality of our work and life.Stress destroys our innate skills,our happiness,our motivation,our happiness and the happiness of our near and dear ones.It ruins our health ,it demolishes relationships.It is a parasite ,a scar on our minds!
PARI FOUNDATION has worked in hundreds of colleges in UK AND UP and has empowered thousands of youth say NO TO STRESS and lead happy work productive lives.We are rapidly moving into newer horizons.CBT is a life changing therapy which is common for all religions,cultures and countries.These empowered youth are our ambassadors who help us in replicating our model in newer colleges and other hot spot areas where we find students in distress.Our motto is PREVENT STRESS RATHER THAN MANAGE IT. We also advocate that Happiness is a life style and lies in the journey not in the goal
CSR and Donations from empathetic donors have helped us to inculcate the use of modern technology in our endeavor,where we can access youth in far flung remote areas with skype, chats and video conferencing.E mails and mobiles have been a boon where we counsel the needy.
We are treading there ,where others do not easily venture to set foot in,because of many obstacles like lack of adequate fundings,lack of skills,stigma,beliefs,and many more problems.But our achievements lie not in counting how much we have earned financially,but in how many smiles we have managed to bring back on the sad faces around us.

Let us teach our children to be resilient and learn to accept problems and find appropriate solutions to them.

Let us teach our children to be resilient and learn to accept problems and find appropriate solutions to them.
Every Crisis Empowers us and makes us stronger--provided we view the crisis as an opportunity!
Each one of us has been affected by the monetary ban imposed by the Government, in some way or the other. Adults have shown different reactions to this situation enforced on them. Some have shown an altruistic attitude ,have accepted the situation and are ready to bear the suffering which comes their way with it, with a smile, because they feel that it is all for the benefit of the Nation. Some are not so compromising and feel anxious and worried with banking and withdrawal problems which come automatically with the ban. Some are worried and angry! Why should they suffer the agony of running from bank to bank having to deposit their hard earned money and wait in long queues for getting back the new currency they ask? Some are very stressed with the unaccounted money they have--for obvious reasons! The problem is the same for all but everyone has a different way of responding to it.
On Children’s Day this year, let us all pledge to teach our children how to cope up with the unexpected problems ,like the one mentioned above, which may come their way.
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Let us teach them how to become more resilient and strong. We need to remember that our children are all the time watching us and our reactions to various situations. If they see us getting stressed when faced with a sudden catastrophe, they will react to similar situations in the same way in future. However, if they see us accepting problems with an attitude of gratitude, and if they learn from us that every problem has a solution and problems come disguised to make us stronger , our children too will learn to cope adaptively with the problems that come their way. They will learn (from us), how to keep stress at bay!
Parents and teachers should be good role models to the children and make them understand, by their behaviour and attitude to the problems which confront them ,that these problems are actually challenges or opportunities which have come to test their resilience and teach them how to respond without getting stressed. We have to teach our children how to control their reactions to the problems. We have to explain to them how to accept problems without getting perturbed, analyse the solutions ,choose the most appropriate solution to the problem, and move on. At the same time it has to be explained to them that non-acceptance of situations and negative thoughts , build-up stress in the mind which is toxic and clouds our decision making power and makes us anxious ,depressed or angry. We have to teach our children how to think positive and consequently be positive and happy.
Let us make this Children’s Day special for our children—let us model to them via our behaviour how they should view problems with an attitude of gratitude and learn to find solutions to the problems that confront them in life .Let us teach them how to cope adaptively with the challenges in life ,be in high stress free, resilient and confident. This is the best gift we can give to our children—the art of living a stress free ,happy life.
Dr.Sona Kaushal Gupta
Neuro-psychologist Dehra-Dun
parifoundation@gmail- .com
9411- 028002

Friday, 4 November 2016

Change Your Thoughts and Attitude To Prevent Stress-- PARI Shows the wayforward

"The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be." 
When I was studying Medicine at the famous King Georges Medical College in Lucknow, way back in the late seventies, we (my colleagues and me) were trained to be kind and compassionate to the patients we treated, as part of our education ,because  we were taught they were in a lot of physical pain and agony and needed our kind healing touch and treatment. Gradually with the passage of time, the focus of treatment shifted to Good Holistic Health which included emphasis on the importance of Good Mental Health as well Good Physical Health.
       Later, while practicing as a doctor I found that many patients who came for treatment and investigations for their ailments, used to be very stressed and anxious, for multiple reasons. Either they were worried about their disease, or the cost of treatment entailed or the repercussion it would have on their family. This stress compounded their illness and made it worse!
       Many a time the patients suffered work pressures, peer pressures, family tensions, financial strains and so on, and these constraints made them so stressed   that they had headaches and burn out, which further deteriorated their work performance, and this made them more stressed. A vicious cycle followed, which could not be relieved by any medication, no matter which brand or how much. Psychosomatic disease is the term given to such ailments-which simply means—body symptoms due to mental stress!
      As  my children were growing up through their adolescent years, I encountered many of their friends and numerous other students who were stressed/ depressed ,due to a plethora of reasons like peer pressure, parental pressures, self –expectations leading to pressures, academic pressures and so on-the list is never ending. This large chunk of stressed youth had no one to turn to for help, as their parents, who were believed to be the natural support systems for children some years back, were also in the same boat as their children today, and were very stressed and disturbed, lacked adequate parenting skills and were not able to communicate rationally with their children. All these factors resulted in the children moving away psychologically from parents and family into the clutches of addictions and substance abuse. The situation had catapulted from bad to worse.
    Parent -child conflicts were rampant, relationship issues were so common and divorces were taking place at the drop of a hat, road rage, anger and aggression reigned supreme in the family and on the roads .What was happening to the society and in the society was beyond anyone's comprehension. The saddest part was that children and the youth bore the brunt of all this and had no one to turn to for help or guidance. They instinctively turned to their peers for support who led them to maladaptive coping.
     Stress, I found was the root cause of all these maladies .If people knew how hazardous stress could be to their mental and physical health, if youth just understood that stress could lead them to drugabuse, alcoholism, depression, and many more such maladies, and if  they were AWARE and EMPOWERED that Stress could be Coped and Prevented and told How they could do so, their life would be stress-free, anxiety- free, happy  and they would be able to live a more work productive and enriched life.
     At this point I took up the challenge of doing this and founded PARI FOUNDATION a NGO which is an Acronym for Psychological Assessment And Rehabilitation In --all people, especially children and youth. Our NGO uses the tool of CBT---Cognitive Behaviour Therapy--and empowers and educates youth that their THOUGHTS are completely in their  control and by changing/shaping their thoughts they can change their attitude towards a specific problem thereby countering  or overcoming it successfully. Thus they can PREVENT BEING IN STRESS.
      PARI FOUNDATION focuses on SELF-IMPROVEMENT with the help of CBT.
Our Destiny , we advocate, is not in the hands of  any supernatural power, as we were made to believe in, by our fathers and forefathers. We can ALL shape our destiny the way we want it to be, just by focusing on the quality and quantity of our thoughts and changing them accordingly. This is self-empowerment and works wonders and keeps stress at bay. This is also ‘adaptive coping.’
     PARI FOUNDATION has worked with thousands of students in hundreds of schools in India, in and around DehraDun ,UP and we are rapidly moving on to newer horizons. We have empowered hundreds of youth to PLEDGE AND SAY NO TO STRESS AND DRUGS. Technology has been a boon for us and has helped us dramatically in our endeavour to reach out to more  and  more youth all over the country, Students  attend our LIVE-workshops ,have Interactive sessions with our team, whereby we help them think differently and find rational solutions to numerous problems which plague them, thereby helping them ward off the stress. Internet services made available far and wide enable us to talk to youth even in the remotest areas by e-conferencing. Skype sessions with students who need them, e-mails, mobile chats and messages, further ensure that students can reach us easily. Our videos/films/questionnaires help students gauge their stress and anxiety levels and they find quick remedies on our website, at the click of a button.
Our aim is to have stress free and happy society which will automatically be more efficient and work productive. Stress-free people can work better and harder and sustain themselves and their families in a much more conducive way. We believe that rather than being stressed and then learning to manage it—let us all --PREVENT STRESS .This is also our motto and it is 100% possible today. Awareness and Empowerment are the keywords.
Dr.Sona Kaushal Gupta
Founder Director PARI FOUNDATION