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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 95-96

Need for development of indigenous socioculturally relevant mental health interventions from India

Department of Psychiatric Social Work, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission02-Nov-2022
Date of Acceptance04-Nov-2022
Date of Web Publication10-Nov-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Aarti Jagannathan
Department of Psychiatric Social Work, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru - 560 029, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2949-6993.360868

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How to cite this article:
Jagannathan A. Need for development of indigenous socioculturally relevant mental health interventions from India. J Appl Conscious Stud 2022;10:95-6

How to cite this URL:
Jagannathan A. Need for development of indigenous socioculturally relevant mental health interventions from India. J Appl Conscious Stud [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Feb 8];10:95-6. Available from: http://www.jacsonline.in/text.asp?2022/10/2/95/360868

A number of Western models of social work and counseling have emerged in the past decades. These models of therapy have been extensively used by mental health professionals in treating persons with mental health issues all over the world including India and have claimed to be effective. However, many mental health professionals have observed that counseling, as practiced in the West, might be suitable only for those living in metropolitan cities of India and not for majority of the Indian population. The reason for this was that many mental health professionals believed that Western counseling principles were not only “alien” to the culture but also to the sociocultural milieu of the country. Indian philosophy, on the other hand, has depicted varied instances in the scriptural texts where counseling constructs could be at play.

In classical text like the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna under stress (possible depression) exhibits elements of guilt, lack of motivation, and distorted thinking, which Lord Krishna helps to resolve through a process akin to psychotherapy. Karma and reincarnation are two concepts from the Upanishads that allow one to become self-aware. In terms of emotions, the Rig Veda acknowledges both positive and negative emotions. The Yajur Veda shows the importance of self-esteem and self-worth and allows one to be in a space where he or she is able to be creative, engaged, and happy. The Atharva Veda presents theory of mental illness (mental illness occurs due to an imbalance in the person's mind and/or body or the connection between the mind and body), the interconnection between the mind (Gunas) and the body (Doshas), and that the curative factor of the Indian psychological theory being is creating a holistic balance within the individual. The eighth book of the Atharva Veda, Charaka Samhita, describes “the function of the mind as direction of senses, control of the self, reasoning and deliberation” (p. 127). This text also speaks clearly about mental illness and reports that there are different reasons for mental illness. Further, the Taittiriya Upanishad states that excessive speed and demanding situation at the mental and physical levels (Annamaya Kosa and Pranamaya Kosa), upsurges caused by strong likes and dislikes at emotional level (Manomaya Kosa) and conflicts, and ego-centric behavior at the psychological level (Vijnanamaya Kosa) are responsible for imbalances found at grassroots level. Yoga (considered by some as a physical and mental form of psychotherapy) through “successive stimulation– relaxation helps (1) break the loop of uncontrolled speed of thoughts (stress), (2) gain control over the mind” and (3) harmonize the disturbances at each of the five levels (Pancha Kosa) to tackle psychosomatic problems.

The vastness and complexities of concepts described in Indian philosophy, lack of scientific rigor among those conducting research on these concepts, and the strong biomedical orientation of Indian mental health professionals, have limited the framework from being universally known and accepted. As a step toward developing indigenous mental health interventions, research from our team has focused on yoga as an add-on treatment for patients with schizophrenia, depression, and caregivers (Behere et al., 2011; Jagannathan et al., 2012a; Jagannathan et al., 2012b; Varambally et al., 2012; Villacres et al., 2014). The team has also looked at the effect of specific yoga practices such as “trataka” on cognitive functions in the elderly (Talwadkar et al., 2014), understanding barriers to yoga therapy (Baspure et al., 2012), and development of a community project on yoga (using digital technology) for outpatient caregivers living in the Indian rural/semi-urban communities (Hamza et al., 2020). Furthermore, we are also attempting to develop socioculturally based counseling techniques based on the classical text of “Ramayana” for clients with depression (Bhide et al., 2022). These initiatives are important toward developing indigenous mental health interventions which have sociocultural sensitivity and help in inclusive social transformation, especially in the Indian context.

  References Top

Baspure, S., Jagannathan, A., Kumar, S., Varambally, S., Thirthalli, J., Venkatasubramanian, G.,… Gangadhar, B. N. (2012). Barriers to yoga therapy as an add-on treatment for schizophrenia in India. International Journal of Yoga, 5 (1), 70-73.  Back to cited text no. 1
Behere, R. V., Arasappa, R., Jagannathan, A., Varambally, S., Venkatasubramanian, G., Thirthalli, J.,… Gangadhar, B. N. (2011). Effect of yoga therapy on facial emotion recognition deficits, symptoms and functioning in patients with schizophrenia. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 123 (2), 147-153.  Back to cited text no. 2
Bhide, S. R., Kurhade, C., Jagannathan, A., Sushrutha, S., Sudhir, P. M., & Gangadhar, B. N. (2022). Feasibility of using counseling techniques from Ramayana for managing negative emotions: An anecdotal review and analysis. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 44 (5), 499-503.  Back to cited text no. 3
Hamza, A., Jagannathan, A., Hegde, S., Katla, N., Bhide, S. R., Thirthallli, J.,… Nagendra, H. R. (2020). Development and testing of an audio-visual self-help yoga manual for Indian caregivers of persons with schizophrenia living in the community: A single-blind randomized controlled trial. International Journal of Yoga, 13 (1), 62-69.  Back to cited text no. 4
Jagannathan, A., Hamza, A., Thirthalli, J., Nagendra, H. R., Nagarathna, R., & Gangadhar, B. N. (2012a). Development and feasibility of need-based yoga programme for family caregivers of in-patients with schizophrenia in India. International Journal of Yoga, 5 (1), 42-47.  Back to cited text no. 5
Jagannathan, A., Hamza, A., Thirthalli, J., Nagendra, H. R., Kare, M., Yadav, M.,… Gangadhar, B. N. (2012b). Efficacy of yoga and psychosocial training programme for caregivers of persons with schizophrenia. National Journal of Professional Social Work, 13 (1-2), 3-15.  Back to cited text no. 6
Talwadkar, S., Jagannathan, A., & Nagarathna, R. (2014). Effect of Trataka on cognitive functions in the elderly. International Journal of Yoga, 7 (2), 96-103.  Back to cited text no. 7
Varambally, S., Gangadhar, B. N., Thirthalli, J., Jagannathan, A., Kumar, S., Venkatasubramanian, G.,… Nagendra, H. R. (2012). Therapeutic efficacy of add-on yogasana intervention in stabilized outpatient schizophrenia: Randomized controlled comparison with exercise and waitlist. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 54 (3), 227-232.  Back to cited text no. 8
Villacres, M. D. C., Jagannathan, A., Nagarathna, R., & Ramakrishna, J. (2014). Decoding the Integrated Approach to Yoga Therapy (IAYT): Qualitative evidence based conceptual framework. International Journal of Yoga, 7 (1), 22-31.  Back to cited text no. 9


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