PARI FOUNDATION is a non-profit organisation and was conceptualised by its Founder Director Dr. Sona Kaushal in year 2008, while she was working as a Pathologist cum Biochemist in the hospital, and she was surprised to find, that many patients who came for treatment to the hospital went back stressed, anguished and sad, even after their regular consultations, tests and treatment in the hospital.
Speaking to some of them she found that they were worried and stressed not only about their illness, but also about its consequences, its duration, the treatment cost it would entail, its effect on their job and their family, and so on. They had no one to turn to and did not know HOW to relinquish their fear’s. The mental anguish which they faced, as a consequence of this, resulted into stress, which further compounded their illness.
During this period, as her adolescent children were passing through their own teenage upheavel's, she found that many of their adolescent friends, were a stressed, worried and angry lot too, as they were facing school stress, parental, academic, peer and career problems. Added to all this were issues related to their own sexuality and adolescence, which further complicated their lives! They had no one with whom they could share their numerous adolescent doubts or problems. Peer Pressure and Parental conflicts inevitably made things worse for them and they viewed life from a complicated and confused perception. She spoke to their parents and was surprised to find that they were an even more confused and stressed lot, and were finding it extremely difficult to communicate with or cope up with their adolescent child’s odd behaviours, academic and peer issues. Neither were they able to understand their kids nor could the children approach their parent’s, as there was a lot of STRESS and total lack of trust and communication on both sides! Whenever the Parents tried to help or intervene or advice the children on various issues like studies, Time Management, their girl/boyfriend issues, or the time they spent talking on the mobile or on the internet and other common problems, most of the adolescent’s just backed off. This made the parents angrier and they would again try to argue, coerce, and emotionally communicate with their children, but to no avail. The argument’s often resulted into more STRESS, anger and aggression on both sides. Eventually the parent’s and the children stopped talking to each other, thus further complicating the Parent-Child relationship and leading to a MORE STRESSED OUT RELATIONSHIP.
Many other issues happening rampantly in the society, schools ,homes, workplaces, and being reported/highlighted frequently by the media, like Drug Abuse , Child Sexual Abuse, Suicides (especially by the student’s during and after the exams), risky adolescent behaviour, Depression, Anger, Aggression, Parent-Child conflicts etc . made Dr. Sona sit up and wonder! Why was all this happening? Why were people so stressed and unhappy? Why were youth committing suicides and children running away from home? What could be done to prevent all this?
Being a Medical Doctor she knew that STRESS was the main reason for all these maladies in the society & she also had the experience of constantly interacting with patients and knew that STRESS was the root cause of many of our physical and mental ailment’s and it could also devastate us emotionally. She had also, always been interested in the complexities of the human mind and behaviour and in Psychology, so she completed her Master’s in Psychology and then started her new journey. As a Psychologist she understood human behaviour and why many resorted to maladaptive behaviours in times of STRESS.
“ STRESS”---an innocuous sounding word, but which could be so lethal, so as to affect every cell of our body, every sphere of our life, our health, our work, our family, our relationships! The irony however was that many of us were not even aware of the fact that we were stressed. It was in the hour of stress that people became abusive, aggressive, addicts and even resorted to suicides! Dr.Sona decided to do something about this! She planned to tackle this mammoth problem head on and take the message, that Stress and Stress related problems, are hazardous to our physical, mental and emotional health, to the masses. She also planned to educate the people, that STRESS IS Preventable, and about the healthy life-style changes, the thought- process changes the people should make, so that they could lead stress-free lives. She decided to take to the people especially to the youth, tips about healthy life-skills and coping skills and various other measures to DE-STRESS, if they were in the clutches of stress. She firmly believed that everyone, from the very richest to the most under privileged, had a right to and could lead a stress –free life, but that was ONLY possible if they had the appropriate knowledge and know-how about how to do so. This, would then, automatically enhance their work efficiency and make their work more productive, and hence help them to keep stress a bay. She was confident, that once people were AWARE about STRESS and knew how to PREVENT or MANAGE it, then they, their family, the society and thence the world could become a more peaceful, happier and stress-free place to live in!
She started STRESS Awareness Campaigns , in and around her vicinity, where she discussed and educated people about Stress and its harmful effects on one’s mental and physical health and also how they could prevent being stressed out. Psychosomatic disorders and Hysteria, some of the common manifestations of Stress, were rampant in the society and harming the psyche of the community, both rural and urban, in a big way. Awareness about these and other STRESS-RELATED PROBLEMS, and their being PREVENTABLE, as well as their management in those inflicted by them, helped many individuals and families lead healthier, happier lives.
However it was not always smooth sailing for her and she often encountered obstacles in the form of firm beliefs and rituals in the people and society ,who refused to accept the facts told to them. But Dr. Sona was adamant to bring about a change and make a difference. Her Stress Awareness Camps and Workshops continued . She was astonished by the EPIDEMIC-LIKE picture of Stress and it’s related problems, prevailing in the society! These were quietly, subtly and consistently ruining the mental health of people and the society, thereby de-stabilizing our health structure. The sad part was that the people were innocently unaware of being overpowered by this malady known as STRESS, which was steadily parasitizing on their physical and mental health and happiness.
Her Stress Awareness Campaigns were received with tremendous enthusiasm by people of all ages and from all walks of life, be it schools, corporate organizations, social clubs, or professional gatherings, and by those reeling under the toxic effects of stress, but who did not know what to do about it! She provided free counselling sessions to stressed students, their parents, teachers, working people, housewives and many other’s. All of this worked wonder’s for the people who went back happy and much more aware how to remain so. This reinforced her zeal and enthusiasm. The rural mind-set was another challenge which she faced, as the people there were either not educated enough nor very receptive to the awareness of Stress, because of their fixed beliefs and superstitions about mental health issues. They needed more assertive and empathetic convincing and therapy to make them do away with their old superstitious way of thinking.
Many BARRIER’S in the form of guilt, shame, superstitions, belief-systems, fixed mindset, stigma surfaced, but slowly and steadily people were changing for the better. The over-all result was phenomenal. In the villages, the youth were most receptive to the information given to them and they further gave a boost to our mission, by becoming PEER EDUCATORS OF STRESS AWARENESS in their areas thereby further spreading the awareness. In this process, the girl child was also empowered, and she started to go to school more regularly, as the importance of education for all, especially for the girls, was also being emphasised in our Stress Awareness camps. The over whelming response, results and appreciation Dr Sona received, made her dream of the possibility of a Stress-free, happy, aware society, and in the year 2012 Dr Sona, along with other likeminded philanthropic people like lawyers, doctors, retired IAS officer’s and social workers founded a NGO by name of PARI Welfare Society and called it PARI FOUNDATION. PARI is an acronym, and it stands for Psychological Assistance and Rehabilitation In—all children, adolescents and adults.