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“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail,” said poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Dr Safiya has just done that! Following her heart, rather than succumbing to societal pressure, she has taken up psychiatry as her passion and profession. Apart from counseling, she is working on spiritual psychiatry to help people lead happy lives.

By Nigar Ataulla

“In this world of competition, materialism and technology, our human emotions are being crippled. Our emotional, psychological health and related issues are neglected due to lack of time.

Born in the land of oranges and coffee plantations, Coorg, Dr Safiya reflects serenity and calmness just like the land where she spent her childhood. Growing up amidst nature, her kind smile radiates positivity and concern for humanity. Keeping herself away from the rat race of taking up education that would fetch pots of money, she chose first to complete MBBS from Mangalore, followed by post-graduation in Psychiatry from Father Mullers Medical College and a Masters degree in Counselling and Psychotherapy from Kuvempu University, Shimoga.
” My parents encouraged me, and all my three siblings too took up education seriously and today, are busy with their careers. Economic independence is important for women, especially in the Muslim community, so that they feel strong and can stand on their feet. After my studies, I worked as a psychiatrist, in several hospitals in Bangalore and then set up my own clinic here. My husband too supports me in my efforts to give better mental health to people,” says Safiya who also feels that as a mother, she hopes to be the best teacher to her two lovely kids.
For Safiya, her work as a psychiatrist is not a job, but her passion. Looking at people crumbling mentally, caused by a whole lot of mental disorders, long hours of her day are spent counseling them, changing their perceptions and belief systems about themselves and bringing them out of the depths of darkness that they have drowned themselves in.
“In this world of competition, materialism and technology, our human emotions are being crippled. Our emotional, psychological health and related issues are neglected due to lack of time. Despite the advancement in knowledge about health, yet the ignorance and stigma attached to emotional and psychological illness persists. Many of the emotionally troubled individuals succumb to the false claims of faith healers. Superstitious practices are still alive. Most of the Muslims who come to me are from the middle and upper classes. Difficult to believe, but it’s true that even the upper class are in the clutches of the faith healers who extract money in lakhs, promising to cure their mental illness. My purpose of setting up the Mind and Brain Clinic was to create awareness and to be available as a specialized service with neuropsychiatric care, counseling, psychotherapy, de-addiction and child guidance,” says Safiya
” Shocking? But again its true, I have encountered numerous cases of alcoholism, not just among the men in the Muslim community, but also women!” adds Safiya.
Emotional and behavioural problems among children are on the rise. Appropriate psychological instruments, inventories, questionnaires and tests are used for complete assessment. Even violent and aggressive behavior among the teens is rising and has to be addressed at an early stage. Sadly, Muslims simply do not want to face these realities.
“I see Muslim families breaking up as some members suffer from depression, anxiety, hyper-activity, seizure disorder, suspicious behavior, suicidal tendencies, phobias, mood disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders, addiction to Cannabis (ganja), cocaine, heroin, dope, and they go around blaming that their relatives, cousins, in-laws etc, have done black magic on them!” says Safiya.
Apart from cyber addicts, internet and games addiction which has become very common among children and young adults, Safiya explains that she has come across innumerable cases of young professionals who are extremely wealthy, are experts in their field, have the best of material things, but have disastrous personal lives with their spouses, parents or even friends, all for petty matters which consumes their minds, leading to serious mental disturbances.
Neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, paralysis, epilepsy, migraine and chronic headaches have a high emotional impact on emotional and social life. Timely medical and psychological management, along with family training is given at her clinic, apart from clinical hypnotherapy for stress-related issues and childhood conflicts.
“Spiritual psychiatry is something close to my heart and I feel that many emotional issues can be dealt with in an effective way using spiritual psychiatry, irrespective of any religious background of a person,” advises Safiya.
“Most of the youngsters who take up psychiatry as a profession fly away to the US or Australia for lucrative reasons, but I wish to stay here and be available to help everyone. My purpose in life is to bring peace in the lives of emotionally and mentally troubled people,” says Safiya flashing her kind smile again.
(Dr Safiya.M.S can be reached at [email protected]. Ph: 080-23628017 )