With mental health becoming more of a priority these days, there has been an increased need for support services, not only in Canada but worldwide.
According to the World Health Organization, around 450 million people currently struggle with mental illness, making it the leading cause of disability worldwide. And according to Canadian Association for Mental Health (CAMH), while mental illness accounts for about 10 per cent of the burden of disease in Ontario, it receives just seven per cent of health care dollars, creating a wide gap in the system's ability to deliver timely intervention and adequate long-term care.
These staggering statistics are just one of the reasons Bradford resident and registered psychotherapist Sukaina Nathoo decided to open her own private psychotherapy practice, Purposeful Change, three years ago.
Purposeful Change is a virtual clinic, where Nathoo is able to meet with clients from all over the area and beyond.
One silver lining of the pandemic, she says, is that employers are now recognizing the importance of mental health and have updated benefit packages to include coverage of services.
"We've seen that not only has funds for access to health services increased on insurance packages through employers, but they've added psychotherapists for many places of work," she said.
Nathoo has been working in the mental health field and addiction for close to 17 years.
She moved to Canada from the U.K. 12 years ago after meeting her husband. They moved to Bradford 12 years ago and have two children.
For the past seven years, she has been working as an addiction specialist in Toronto hospitals, but throughout the pandemic, she realized she wanted to focus on her own private practice.
"I think I recognized more and more, I had fallen a little bit out of love with working within a system," she said. "Because of the pandemic, it really shifted the (mental health) space," she said.
"Most of us have not been taught in our homes, schools or societies what our emotions are," she said. "What we do receive though are inherited beliefs....and so I think if we haven't been taught the foundations of what's inside of us and how that helps us experience each moment, we are kind of already struggling to make sense of everything which can be overwhelming which is why we are seeing an ongoing increased prevalence of anxiety disorder, amongst other things."
Nathoo is qualified to treat anxiety, depression, complex trauma and attachment injuries.
"Basically I am looking at clients, not through their diagnosis, but rather, how is this person presenting, how are they interacting with the world, what's their story about themselves and what does this tell me about where they come from?" she said.
"Purposeful change and how I can support people towards that is very much a part of who I am and my purpose," she said.
Nathoo is an "integrated therapist", which means she uses multiple techniques, which allows her to provide "customized therapy" for her clients.
"An integrative therapist is trained in a number of models (of treatment) and utilizes a number of them," she said. "By blending a number of different therapies...I can show up and witness you as a human being and who you are in this moment, read your nervous system, read your body language, read your words, and really be intuitive with what's happening for you in this moment."
Nathoo studied psychology, but from a young age was always drawn to the law field.
"I remember one of my first placements was delivering bundles to the royal courts of justice and working with barristers in their chambers," she said. "I have always been a strong advocate of people's rights and supporting people being the best that they can."
She said she was always an insightful child and loved watching people and social behaviour.
It was when she was in college she realized her passion for the psychology field, after having a class with an impactful psychology teacher.
"I was infatuated (with psychology), " she said. "I think I had the foresight to really translate the research to the modern world and for what people needed."
From there, she went on to study psychology and ended up working with individuals with substance abuse issues and addictions. She also worked with minority organizations and supported the U.K. government through mental health services geared toward the BIPOC community.
She then ended up working for the largest independent national health foundation trust in mental health, working with the UK's leading psychiatrist in addictions. It was got first-hand knowledge of the types of prescription medications used to treat mental health patients.
Nathoo supports individuals, couples and families in her sessions. She says she works well with high-complex clients, which she is used to dealing with at the hospital.
"I am really enjoying the work that I do," she said.
To learn more about Purposeful Change, visit here.