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Working hard to break the stigma of mental health illness

Pukaar Magazine’s Sarah Chetwyn headed to Rutland House Counselling and Psychotherapy LTD to discuss combating mental health stigmas with leading professional psychotherapist and practice director, Rima Sighpara

With it being such a taboo subject, I was excited at the prospect of meeting the young award winner who has lead by example and established the foundations of a successful practice that aims to bring the issue of mental health to a comforting level of discussion for all. Both Rima and co-director, Jenny Halson, started their practice initially in one small room three years ago. They now host a full team of 15 therapists and five therapy rooms on Bowling Green Street.

“When I was about 16 years old, my best friend attempted suicide and that was my first traumatic experience of mental health. I guess that was what led me into taking the journey in becoming a therapist”

“I worked for eight years in the voluntary sector, with a wide range of people within the Leicester Community including homeless shelters, prisons and various charities. I was working with Jenny Halson (partnered Director of RHCP) at that time. Over many discussions about our frustrations over lack of funding for people to access counselling, we had the idea to set our own practice up. This shares the values of the voluntary sector but officer’s efficient services delivered by private companies. We decided to set up RHCP and use the ethos we had both gained from the voluntary sector in practice. In Leicester there are charities that can help with low-cost counselling but the waiting lists are very long.”

When it came to choosing how to go about the business elements Jenny and Rima wanted to stick to their vision and bring something new to the community. The multi- skilled RHCP team are a dynamic group that specialise in a variety of therapy approaches.

“We are trying to raise as much awareness as we can in the Leicester community about mental health in order to break the taboo and stigma associated with accessing therapy. There are only two treatment options for mental health, medication or talking therapy. Therefore it is important that people understand how to access treatment and not to leave it until the symptoms have become unmanageable. The way I try to explain it is if you had a physical problem such as a broken leg, you suffer in pain, you would seek help for treatment and confide in a doctor, you would not continue to walk on your broken leg”

In a profession that is so personally demanding Rima explained the downfalls and also the rewards of becoming a Psychotherapist.

“It’s not a straightforward process because you must tackle your own issues first and be really open to self-development. Your first client is yourself. Psychotherapy training makes you open your eyes to a new way of thinking both about your own internal world and external world and sometimes you just want to switch off and go back to thinking without analysing, but I would not change what I have learnt at all, it has really helped me become a better person”.

Rima has generated a lot of media attention in the recent months for her contribution to the community in an attempt to bring more awareness to mental health. Her company’s efforts were rewarded with the Leicester Asian Business Award for “Inspirational Women”.

“I was nominated for the award and did not think that I would win in any shape or form. My name got called out and I looked around blankly! We were overwhelmed and honoured, I think they really appreciated what we had managed to achieve in three and a half years and how we have managed to start tackling mental health within the community.”

RHCP offers a professional therapy service to individuals, families, children and businesses in Leicester and Leicestershire. Their aim is to offer a service that is affordable, flexible and accessible to all.

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