Mariam Alammadi: Psychological help in COVID-19 pandemic

Mariam Alammadi is a Licensed Bahraini Psychologist who has been working in the mental health sector for the last eleven years. She has experience in leading an NGO, counselling, project manager, youth leader, psychotherapist and creating workshops. She is the founder of the Child Foundation Center (CFC) a psychological center that provides specialized care in counselling and milestone development. After the success of the Child Foundation Center and due to the demand, an adult section was added to practice. 

Mariam’s key interest is breaking the stigma of mental health in Bahrain she has written for several local and international publications as well as appeared on the local media to spread this awareness in our community.  She is currently involved in a research project with the Ministry of Education, Al Jawhara Hospital and an esteemed team of colleagues investigating mindfulness practices in public schools. 

Mariam is also the founder and president of Afkarech Female Network and Think Tank. The first female think tank established in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Mariam is passionate about helping women “determine success on their own terms”.  We invited Mariam today to learn more about her activities, especially during the Covid-19 situation.

 

CP: Hi, Mariam! How are you doing today?
MA: Hi, I am doing really well thank you for asking. The temperature is heating up in Bahrain its currently about 39 degrees. So, I am talking to you from a very sunny office this morning. It is my pleasure to share some light on mental health in the Kingdom of Bahrain and thank you for the invitation. I am really passionate about continuing to break the stigma particularly in the MENA Region hence aiding people to seek treatment more readily. 

 

CP: How are you doing in the lockdown situation?
MA: Lockdown in the Kingdom of Bahrain was slightly different in that we did not have complete lockdown. Masks were made mandatory and non-essential businesses were closed temporarily. Citizens were asked to be responsible and adhered to social distancing. Testing was made readily available for the beginning. Individuals were still allowed to exercise freely outdoors. Most facilities had already shifted to online which make it much easier for the general population. My center stayed open which I am really thankful for. We were also certified  and licensed to provide video therapy to patients. Our national health authority NHRA really recognised the toll that COVID19 would take on our community’s mental health. They anticipated this correctly as patients in my center increased by 38-39 per cent. 

 

CP: What were the pros and cons of beig locked? 

MA: There has been a lot of pros for this situation globally – we are getting back to basics – the essentials in life, feeling grateful for things we have possibly taken for granted, slowing down and we are becoming more mindful. The cons are obviously the loss of lives, distress of families being separated, not having proper outlets for stress and loss of jobs/financial stability. What we do know though is life will ultimately change and never go back to before – we will be creating “a new normal”.

CP: You are a founder of Child Foundation Center which provide a specialized care for kids. Could you tell us more about which kind of help one can get in the Center?

MA: I established the Child Foundation Center in 2018 and since it has been going from strength to strength. We specialise in counselling psychology but have a large range of services including milestone assessment, play therapy and psychotherapy. The CFC is essential a safe space  and support system for your whole family to grow healthy foundations to build upon. Whatever issues you are going through whether it is anxiety, anger management, self-esteem and or trauma we are here to help. I feel really privileged to be recognised globally for our efforts and having received several awards. 

 

CP: How would you estimate the amount of cases where the help is needed during the Covid-19? What is the effect of the lockdown on the people’s menthal health?
MA: We looked at the statistics last week regarding correlation to new cases and COVID19 as well as patients who were treated for anxiety returning to help and that was 38-39%. This has illustrated we all need help when it comes to our mental well-being. The most common presenting symptoms are anxiety and depression. We have also seen an increase is correspondence from our local community who want guidance on how to manage their stress, how to talk to children about COVID19 and how to maintain healthy relationships in the home while social distancing. We have been actively working with corporations by supplying them with guidelines and training to help their employees deal with their mental health. 

 

CP: That being said, what would be your immediate recomendations for people who are struggling with motivation, depression and probably even more severe symptoms?
MA: Having a daily routine is so important. If you are working remotely ensure you have some kind of routine and a work station. Or similarly if you are teaching your children at home- ensure to follow some kind of a lesson plan. By following a daily routine, you will feel more productive and be able to set targets. 

 

Take breaks from watching, reading or sharing new stories particularly on social media as not only may the information be incorrect it can also worsen the symptoms of anxiety. Currently a lot of individuals are following websites that are tracking the current health crisis and although it is good to have the information – you do not need to be constantly bombarded with information. Instead choose one or two timings during the day in which you read the news.  

 

Connect with others – try to video call or have phone conversations with others. Psychologically this has been proven to have more of a positive effect than text messaging. You can also use the time to reconnect with people that perhaps you have fallen out of touch with and would like to check on. 

 

Get creative – it is important we channel our creativity during this time. This can help us feel like we have a purpose. Is there an online course you have always wanted to take? Have you always wanted to learn the guitar? Maybe you want to launch a business online? Whatever it may be now is the perfect time to start working towards a goal you have and want to achieve. 

 

Play online games with family or loved ones if you are self-isolating in different places. It is a great way to engage, have a good time and give you another focus. It also ensures you are spending time quality time together even if remotely. 

 

Try and tidy up your living space as this is psychologically proven to make you feel calmer and more positive. 

 

CP: In such a hard period of time, there are many adults that need help. We’ve learned that you opened and adult section as well, which is great in our opinion. Can you tell us a bit more what are the activities of the adult section?
MA: We added an adult section – CFC Psychology due to the demand from the general public. We were treating children and realising that parents themselves needed treatment often from the stress they were feeling. As the adult section was established we also began to work with young adults were developing their sense of identity in life and felt they needed guidance. We have particularly excelled with this section of the community and believe we have been very successful in creating a healthy foundation for them as they go forward into adulthood. 

 

CP: How one can reach out to CFC in case of need?
MA: You can contact us via out website: http://childfoundationcenter.com or our social media links: Instagram @childfoundationcenter there is also an online booking form. We are also contactable by email: apts@childfoundationcenter.com and by calling +9739019001

 

CP: It’s been hard for everyone. Many people lost their jobs, some lost their relatives… All this is like a dark stripe in life…What are your recomendations for satying sane these days? 

MA: COVID19 has been a symbol of loss for many around the world. My sincere condolences to anyone who has lost family. I cannot even begin to suggest how you might be feeling but please know my thoughts are with you at this time. Even for those who lost their jobs and financial security it can be incredibly difficult. The first step of dealing with uncertainty is realising that we cannot control everything particularly in this situation. We may not be always able to control the outcome but we can change our response and perspective.  Recognise there is only so much you can do right now and that makes you a human being not powerless. 

 

We need to think positively and envision the best. Reflect on previous adversity we have had in our lives and realise that we can overcome this together as a community. Instead try to be a positive light to those around you and your family. See how you can help you community even if its remotely. Call neighbours who may not have a lot of family around them and need support during this time. 

 

CP: So, is it really necessary to visit a therapist. Many people would say, why a therapist, is it really necessary?
MA: A therapist is a trained, qualified, caring, non-judgmental licensed professional who is there to make you feel better. Your well-being is the most important component of the session. They listen, they discover if any issues from the past are affecting you currently, they make helpful suggestions and they help you restructure negative cognitive beliefs that you may have been holding onto. Everything you say is completely confidential. Is work bothering you? Do you have a similar pattern in all your relationships? Do you have low self-confidence? Is there a family feud that is causing you anxiety? Are you struggling to meet friends and don’t know where to start? These are all issues a therapist can help you with. So, who does not need therapy? The truth is everybody can benefit from therapy whether it is ongoing therapy or attending just for a mental health check-up. Our mental health affects every part of our daily lives and if we can get help – why wouldn’t we avail of it? You deserve it.

 

 

 

CP: What would be your motivational quote of the day?
MA: Lately I read a quote that really touched me “Good things fall apart so better ones can fall together”. You will survive what comes your way – you are strong, resilient and the belief better days are coming will get through darker times until brighter days are on the horizon. Never give up.  

 

 

CP: Thank you so much for being with us!
MA: Thank you for having me and I am honoured to be with you today. 

 

Follow Mariam on Instagram @allthingsmariam

or get in touch www.mariamalammadi.com