Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in Mumbai: Why Are Families Choosing to Travel to The Wave for Treatment?

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Mental health disorders are common among young people in Mumbai and other parts of India. Research suggests that around 7% of 13 to 17-year-olds in India may have a mental health disorder, but in urban areas like Mumbai, the figure is almost double (13.5%).

Some of the most common mental health problems that young people experience are:

However, despite the seriousness of mental health problems in Indian cities, there is no comprehensive policy for child and adolescent mental health. Most states also lack a specific policy for young people’s mental health.

There are now some school-based initiatives (particularly in urban areas), non-profit organisations, and national strategies directed at child and adolescent psychiatry, but they fall far short of covering the needs of the mental health epidemic among young people in India.

Why Are Families from Mumbai Traveling to The Wave?

For most families in Mumbai, specialist child and adolescent mental health support is difficult (or sometimes impossible) to access. It’s estimated that less than 1% of young people with mental health disorders in India receive quality treatment.

Residential mental health support for young people is especially hard to find. This means that children, adolescents, and young adults who require a higher level of care often need to look outside of the city for support.

The Wave Clinic offers the specialist, expert-led mental healthcare that young people need to recover from mental health problems and build fulfilling futures. It offers residential programs for adolescents from Mumbai and other parts of the world, providing a safe and supported environment focused on building life advantage.

At the same time, our strong parent support networks in Mumbai and local outpatient follow-up care ensure young people make a smooth transition back to their families and communities and remain resilient in the face of future challenges while giving parents the tools they need to support their child’s journey forward.

Our Community of Parents

Families play a huge role in our treatment process. One of the first steps we take—after ensuring that our programs are the best option for a young person’s future—is to introduce our families.

Our Assessment Process: a Focus on Family

When we assess young people, our main focus isn’t the severity of their illness or their clinical diagnosis. We’re confident that our specialist programs and four levels of care can provide the expert clinical support every young person needs to recover.

Instead, we recognise the fundamental role of family in a young person’s recovery. This means that our own relationship with every family is really important. So, during our assessment process, we’re ensuring that we can build effective and supportive relationships with a family that can underpin lasting recovery and positive growth.

Family Buddies

Before we offer a young person a place at The Wave, we usually connect their family with a family buddy. Family buddies are families with young people who are currently at The Wave or have just left – families that know exactly what it’s like to be a parent in our community.

They also share a first-person understanding of what it’s like to spend months or years searching for the right treatment and support for a young person.

Once we connect families together, we aim to foster friendships for life. Because of our assessment process, our families usually share similar characteristics, perspectives, and common ground that facilitate mutual care and understanding.

Becoming a Community

The lasting friendships between families come together in our community of parents. 

We hold formal and informal events for parents of The Wave in different parts of the world where families can support each other and share experiences. Many of our parents are connected on Whatsapp groups where they share mutual support and encouragement. When parents come to family therapy, they sometimes deliver gifts from young people from other families. 

These bonds and connections are invaluable not only during the treatment process but also when young people return home. Many adolescents like to meet up and reunite with friends from their stay at The Wave, spending time with their respective families. 

Within our community of parents, families can trust one another to provide the same standard of parenting and care as they would themselves, with a shared understanding of additional tools of support that young people may require. This means that young people can visit and stay with one another with security and trust.

As a result, young people who have been in treatment are able to have ongoing opportunities and experiences that may otherwise be out of reach. Social experiences like having sleepovers or going on holiday with a friend can, in other circumstances, cause parents stress and worry. But with the shared understanding and trust within our community, families have been able to open their houses for young people to get together in places all over the world and stay connected.

Our Community of Parents in Mumbai

In Mumbai, The Wave has a strong and extensive network of parents. As more and more families travel to our treatment space for mental health support, this community grows even broader. 

This means that families in Mumbai can share mutual support and create experiences, both during treatment and in the years that follow.

Supported Outpatient Treatment and Follow-Up Care

At The Wave, we plan for a young person’s return to their home community from the very start of treatment. We facilitate the transition back to their families, schools, and social networks, ensuring they receive ongoing support throughout the process.

One of our roles is to arrange outpatient treatment sessions for a young person when they get back home. Ongoing outpatient sessions help young people reinforce and extend their skills, navigate challenges they face, and access professional support in difficult moments. They also support young people through the specific challenges they encounter during their transition.

In Mumbai, we work with a network of trusted, qualified therapists based in the city. These therapists offer top-tier, specialist support to our young people, liaising with our therapists at The Wave to provide integrated and cohesive follow-up care. Young people are able to meet with follow-up therapists online while they are still staying in our centre, helping them build trust and reducing anxiety and worry about the change. 

Returning to Our Centre for Family Therapy

At The Wave, we believe families are fundamental in a young person’s recovery. They can provide the scaffolding a young person needs to navigate challenges, remain resilient, and continue to grow. On the other hand, unhelpful family behaviours can trigger the return of symptoms and create additional barriers to recovery.

With this in mind, we prioritise family therapy as a core part of our programs, both during treatment and afterwards. We support families to travel to our centre for therapy sessions at various points in their child’s stay. These opportunities continue once a young person has returned home when we facilitate visits of the whole family to our treatment space.

Knowing When to Seek Additional Help

Families of young people with mental health concerns often begin by seeking outpatient care for their child. Quality outpatient care may be available at international schools, which often have exceptional counselling and pastoral support. For some young people, this care can effectively support them to manage and recover from the challenges they face.

However, young people with more complex mental health disorders may require a higher level of care. Schools and other outpatient services may not be able to provide the specialist support, constancy of care, and combination of different approaches that some children and adolescents need. This can mean that young people are not kept fully safe nor able to address and work through the underlying causes of their symptoms.

Some young people also find it difficult to change harmful patterns of behaviours while staying in their home environment, surrounded by the stresses and triggers of daily life. Inpatient treatment can provide the space and security they need to change unhelpful patterns and build positive ones.

If a young person is receiving outpatient care but their well-being and symptoms are not improving, you may want to seek additional support and explore options for inpatient support – especially if their behaviours put them at a high risk of harm. Inpatient support can also be an alternative for young people who are uninterested or disengaged from outpatient sessions or drop out of treatment.

The Wave Clinic: a Residential Treatment Space Dedicated to Young People

The Wave Clinic is a dedicated treatment space for adolescents and young adults just outside of Kuala Lumpur, in the state of Selangor, Malaysia. We specialise in young people’s mental health, with expertise in neurodiversity, family systems, and additional needs.

We see treatment as a process of building: building skills, relationships, and futures. We aim to make a difference in the lives of young people through exceptional clinical care, education, community responsibility, and enriching experiences.

Through our personal learning programs, young people can continue their education at our centre. We also offer additional vocational qualifications, internships, and work experience to enhance a young person’s skills and open doors to new pathways.

If you’re interested in finding out more about our programs, get in touch today.

Fiona - The Wave Clinic

Fiona Yassin is the founder and clinical director at The Wave Clinic. She is a U.K. and International registered Psychotherapist and Accredited Clinical Supervisor (U.K. and UNCG).

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