People immediately respond when they are physically injured and in pain. They yell, ask for help, and seek medication. However, people have different views when it comes to mental illness, and Burmese people are not well informed about it. Today, organizations like Counselling Corner are spreading awareness and helping people with mental health issues.

In Myanmar, common mental healths are depression and anxiety. The primary triggers of this mental distress (especially during the pandemic) include bereavement, isolation, loss of income, and fear, which later causes insomnia and anxiety. However, many people have turned into alcohol and drug use instead of seeking help.

“Body and mind go together and it’s logical that both should be in good health. For centuries people go and see a doctor if they have any physical problem yet searching treatment for a mental health issue is equally important and almost every mental health issue can be treated.” – Aung Min Thein, a therapist and a founder of Counselling Corner

 

Real-Life Heroes and Fighting the Unseen Enemy in Myanmar
Aung Min Thein, a founder of Counselling Corner

Counselling Corner is founded by Aung Min Thein, who has been passionate about mental health since a young age and later studied Psychotherapy in Australia. The company aims to improve mental well-being in Myanmar as well as supporting individual clients, training fundamental counselling, and provide webinars to spread awareness nationwide. Counselling Corner services revolve around Psychotherapy and often use a ‘reflection therapy’ to let clients discover their solutions to their problems. 

“Psychotherapy is a way to help people with a broad variety of mental health problems and emotional difficulties…I have seen that it is an evidence-based approach and it helps to eliminate or control troubling symptoms so a person can function better and can increase well-being and healing…I have been introduced to more than 300 modalities while I was studying my post-grad in Sydney. However, my preference is a person-centred approach; it helps a lot of Myanmar people especially people experiencing trauma and chronic pain.”

The Counselling Corner walks through the recovery process hand in hand with the clients to get through the illness together. Once the client decides to receive a service, they take an interview to discuss and collaborate on the proposed treatment schedule. Therefore, fighting unseen enemies is similar to recovering from physical health issues.

The average demographic for mental illness in Myanmar is between 18 to 35 years old, and it could develop trauma at an early age. The country’s quality of life also has an impact, such as home situations, unsafe environments, and poverty. These experiences could carry on later in life, so seeking a counsellor is advised. The community needs to indulge in accepting mental illness to be as normal as a physical illness.

Real-Life Heroes and Fighting the Unseen Enemy in Myanmar
Su, a counselor, and trainer of Counselling Corner
“Most people in our culture think therapy/counselling is for weak and crazy people. Some people also assume counselling or therapy is just for treating mental illnesses, “disorders,” or severe psychopathology — not for personal growth or development. It is the biggest misconception in our country. Not only people with severe mental illnesses need help but also people with anger issues, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and so on can do counselling. 
Most people [also] assume counsellors are magicians and can ask for what they want, e.g.; I would like to get back with my ex. [In fact], counselling is a two-way street. It is called a therapeutic alliance which consists of three essential elements: both agree on the goals of the treatment, on the tasks, and to work on the development of a personal bond made up of reciprocal positive feelings….
A counsellor’s duty is to encourage their clients to be self-reliant because encouraging a person to be self-reliant is generally more useful than giving advice.” – Su, a counsellor, and trainer of Counselling Corner

 

Real-Life Heroes and Fighting the Unseen Enemy in Myanmar
Training Sessions of Counselling Corner

The pandemic has an impact on social isolation and being in a constant loop of worries. However, this has been an eye-opening experience of emotional well-being. People began to understand the importance of emotional health and psychological resilience during these difficult times, and some started to seek coping mechanisms. Nonetheless, spreading awareness should still be active.

Counselling Corner has recently trained 180 volunteers at Covid quarantine centres to give elemental counselling to emotionally defeated covid patients. There were also workshops on how to cope with stress due to Covid related situations. They were competent and popular among the audiences.

Real-Life Heroes and Fighting the Unseen Enemy in Myanmar
Kaung Htet Shine, sales & marketing of Counselling Corner
‘The pandemic has indeed made people gain more interest in seeking therapy at Counselling Corner. More people have anxieties or feel lonely and the media has been reporting more about mental health which means people are more aware and seek help. It also helped that Aung San Suu Kyi mentioned several times the importance of being mentally healthy so people are more receptive to gain knowledge on this topic.” Kaung Htet Shine, sales and marketing of Counselling Corner

Ms.Su also gave advice on what you should do when you notice signs of mental illness. 

“Confide in a trustworthy person first if you are not comfortable with going straight to a mental health professional. Your primary care doctor is also a good person to talk to, [and they] can usually give you the name of a counsellor, psychologist, or psychiatrist to contact…”

 

Real-Life Heroes and Fighting the Unseen Enemy in Myanmar
Training Sessions of Counselling Corner

If you are shy or feeling unsure and hesitant about interacting with counsellors, there are many options open for you at Counselling Corner. Clients can do a Zoom session or call an anonymous telephone helpline, ‘Call Me Today,’ which offers free counselling. It is a crucial first step to overcome shyness. All conversations at Counselling Corner are kept confidential, so you do not need to worry about being exposed to your struggles and issues.

‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ is a well-known proverb for physical well-being, and emotional wellbeing could be as simple as that too. A daily walk, 20 minutes of meditation, or calming activities such as gardening or yoga could be a help for mental health.

I would like to urge Myanmar citizens to understand that a mental illness can happen to anyone and it’s possible to find treatment. Show ‘loving-care’ to people who have a mental illness and support them and encourage people to find professional help if needed. – Aung Min Thein, founder of Counseling Corner

 


Here is a list of services if you are looking forward to seeking help from Counselling Corner

    • Individual counselling (including family & couples therapy) 
      • Most in Demand; Available online & in personal sessions 
    • Training: basic and advanced counselling skills for people working in HR, the health sector, NGO’s, etc.
    • Webinars: explaining and educating people nationwide about the importance of mental health
      • Weekly Facebook Live talks on Tuesday
      • Cherry FM radio 
      • Several other media for private companies or group
    • Workshops: Provide for  companies as well as NGO’s 
      • Exercises for participants to ensure definite behaviour change after the workshop. 
      • An affordable workshop that helps staff members to overcome small anxieties and become a more productive and confident employee.
Counselling Corner is not currently giving counselling services to children under 15 years old as it is a different psychology field, and a specialized child psychotherapist is recommended instead. 
The sessions are available in both English and Burmese, so the participants can freely express themselves in whichever language they are comfortable in. Counselling Corner suggests clients not to bring their children, so the clients can fully concentrate on the session and have some quiet time before and after the session.
Prices are kept low as Counselling Corner aimed to improve the general mental health situation nationwide, and many online webinars are free of charge. Moreover, Counselling Corner subsidizes some individual counselling for people who can’t afford sessions.

Contact information:

No.5/9, 1st Floor, Bogalay Zay Street (Lower Block), Botahtaung Township
Yangon, 09 784 509 916

www.facebook.com/counsellingcornermyanmar

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