Treat the Pain for Settlement

Canada is in the process of accepting a large number of refugees in particular people from Syria. Welcoming and bringing home refugees from Syria became a happy news in December 2015, when the first group of those individuals and families started to make the airports life more exciting than normal.
You could think that most settlement agencies across Canada, have instructions or plans in order to settle down refugees and help them to integrate into their new communities’ best they can.
However, the great question remaining is that what is the plan for provision of mental health services for this population? What is the plan for treating and providing for mental health issues that most of refugees are dealing with?
Surely the research shows that refugees are the population prone to develop mental health issues due to the level of experienced pre-migration and at times post migration challenges.
As a refugee, you arrive with the deep down level of emotional pain and trauma because simply your life has been turned upside down. It is simply traumatic if you are forced to leave the known environment and knocking on neighbour’s doors for protection. For many people, it is challenging to ask for help and surely there are those who could require more services than others. Therefore it is important to understand the level of trauma that refugees are carrying with the self. Treatment of trauma and emotional pain is an absolutely important part of the settlement program for refugees, however regretfully this issue could be overlooked at easily. Treat the pain as the first step towards settlment, that is smart and helps the otehr steps to happen much faster.
Poran Poregbal, MA, RSW, RCC


Happy Norooz

Norooz is the new day that we all are waiting for, a new day that earth awakens and all species start a new cycle of growth. Norooz is the oldest tradition and celebration as it is stemming from spring, which is the beginning of all new starts. In the ancient Persian history, Norooz is considered to be a “winner” as Norooz is a fighter that always wins the battle with the darkness of winter, it is a real source of hope and light.
Norooz is the day that human mind will integrate itself with the freshness of earth, the beauty of nature, and the brightness of daylight.
Over time of human history, Norooz has been there and it has had many enemies, however Norooz is a winner of all time and no one can stop it from happening.
Norooz is beyond tradition or religion or any boundaries, Norooz is about life and growth that naturally is waiting for us all. Norooz is about surviving darkness and challenges and surviving the days that no lights are in the sight.
Norooz is an answer to all our pain and sorrow while it has a component of natural cure for all pain. The cure is to go back to our mother earth and find the real source of hope as Norooz is on our door.
Happy Norooz and happy spring.
Poran Poregbal, MA, RSW, RCC


Refugees and Human Crisis

Canada is accepting refuges from Syria. This is a great news and while the world is struggling to deal with Syrian refugees, Canada has already started to settle in those who are arriving every day.
It is important to understand that what refugees need is beyond physical settlement. Psychological settlement includes helping the individuals explore the traumas that they have endured. What the global community is dealing with is not a refugee crisis but a human crisis leading to millions of people feeling like they do now in Syria and that region.

As the Saadi Shirazi said in 1291:
Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you cannot retain.

In my professional view and in the position of having worked with refugees a longer time, I would argue that most of refugees arriving with some or multiple symptomology related to the Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome or PTSD.

For the professional community, it may be obvious that refugees are a group of individuals who are arriving with many challenges including trauma, loss, grief, and emotional pain. Still it is important to educate both the public and the arriving refugees about the meaning and reason for symptoms that encompass PTSD. I will continue writing about those symptoms soon.
Poran Poregbal, MA, RSW, RCC


Easily Offended Syndrom

2012-12-27 13.03.56

A new mental health issue in our super sensitive world: Easily Offended Syndrome

Have you not met those people who get offended by all and anything you say? If not, have a look around and you will find those people easily.

Angry husbands, nagging wives, high maintenance family members, or anxious friends are those individuals who possibly will be easily offended by anything you do or say. However, if these easily offended individuals are in power positions, then those who “offend” will get serious consequences. Worst comes to worst, as soon as these easily offended individuals manage to silence others simply by using various excuses such as a belief systems to their assistance. This latest, putting the belief systems in pedestal and rising flags for it to make a point, is a dangerous – manipulative game that easily lead to wars and conflicts.

Individuals who get easily offended tell you: Do not talk to me, obey my rules, and shut down, or else. Easily offended syndrome has numerous symptoms that should be explored: Acting defensive, using violence, anger and rage, playing victim role, using guilt trips, blaming, and controlling is what these easily offended individuals do to get attention.

If there is no other way to quiet you, then these easily offended persons would blame you for acting against them, religions, profits, or / and god. Basically, it does not matter what you say nor do, these people can judge you quickly, get offended easily, scare you, violate you, and rule over you since they need to be in control. Easily offended individuals know best.

But who get easily offended?
• individuals with low self-esteem, low self-worth, and low self-confidence,
• individuals who would not take responsibilities for the short comings or wrongdoings,
• individuals who were raised to be god and not less than, perhaps suffering from some narcissistic personality characteristics,
• individuals who are delusional, in-congruent, irrational, and super sensitive,
• And individuals who are neurotics, in fury, and hateful towards others.
What is the treatment for this illness? The real treatment would be promotion of respect for diversity and communication.
Hopefully justice and respect for human rights can be the governing forces in our world, consequently the easily offended individuals would not be able to lead, rule, or demand silence. Open dialogues without fearing these easily offended individuals are the real answer.

Poran Poregbal, MA, RSW, RCC


“Then nobody liked me”

Last words shown by Amanda Todd in a video, a young 15 year old year who committed suicide due to a horrific act of bullying. She was bullied for years and she suffered silently. The story has caused much pain and guilt feeling for her community and everyone here in British Columbia, to the level that B.C. Premier Christy Clark had to convey a message about the issue. Amanda could not take it any longer, while questions remain why people around her, school teachers, or counsellor whom she saw could not see the killing pain in her. As an outsider we like to be assured that those who saw her on a daily basis did what they could, however it is sad to say that they missed the signs. With the amount of pressure on a young person’s mind, bullying and fear of being ridiculed constantly is the most horrible assault someone can take. Bullying is an organized crime that the offender may not see the consequences of. Bullying seems to be involved with the power imbalances and abuse. Bullying occur everywhere with no regard for race, age, gender, or ethnicity. Bullying kills and that is a fact.

The loss of Amanda Todd is a hard lesson while it happens once in a while. Bullying is a challenge and struggle affecting young souls, while this is a problem not only for school authorities but parents and people involved in a young person’s life.
Some parents may not recognize the behaviours of a child and they misinterpret the signs that are often number of them out there. Parents of a bully and a bullier are both victims of not knowing how to raise their children and youth with a healthier personality. Victims of bullying often suffer from lack of self esteem and self appraisal, why Amanda made the disaster of interpreting the abuse with lack of self worth.

Amanda gave us a piece of lesson with those cue cards she used in her posted video; she explained the whole process of crashing someone’s soul, from beginning to an incomprehensible end.
She wrote on those cards what occurred and how this never ending negative and damaging cycle took her life. Throughout her story explained with individual sentences and often words tighten to one another, she was hoping for an angel to arrive and save her. There are many Amanda’s out there. There must be numerous girls / boys in Amanda’s age and situation who do cry for help out there, therefore adults around them should know better.

We need angels out there. Education will do it.

Not only teacher education but also Parent education is a must and should include developmental stages of a child’s life to adulthood. May she be in peace now.

Poran Poregbal, MA, RSW, RCC.



Banning women from life, does not work anymore.

These useless men in the shaking filed of power in our beloved home country do not know how to walk on their toes any more. Just these days we hear the news that Islamic government of our country in prison, banned women from 70 university programs. This is well another effort to remove women from the social life filed. However does it work?

Not only they have killed, raped, burned, stoned, slashed, and put down our women in the past 32 years of their malicious existence, but also they try to terrorize women from existing in all areas of life. All the intimidation, punishments, killings, and brutal actions against women in Iran have only made women to become more resilient, stronger, and more willing to ask for change. Iranian women is not afraid of any treats anymore, this is a reality that these stupid men deliberately try to ignore.

The hardships that Iranian women and also men have experienced will never stop them from willing to change their situations. The governments as such may be in power with help of all their weapon or coercive forces on the streets; however adversity and censors will only encourage people to be willing to learn more and to discover their rights. Appetite for education and life skills among Iranian women have never been this much on the stake, this is why these sick minded men who think they are in charge try to yet again push women backwards. Women in Iran turn out to be the most the intelligent and flexible beings; they know how to ignore these nonsense rules and bans.


Schizophreina This Silent Killer

Schizophrenia is an illness that is unknown in many cultures and communities, while it is an illness that exists across all borders. Countless people from cultures that mental illness is a taboo do suffer emotionally and mentally in silence and without proper support. In my career as a clinical counsellor, I meet these clients who are either diagnosed with various type of emotional distress or mental illness. Individuals who suffer from depression, anxiety, or phobia seek help here and there, while some clients do manage to not tell the real issues they are dealing with. Mental illness and emotional distress combined with socio-cultural challenges make people to be confused about what the real issue might be. In my job, I witness not only the pain and suffering due to the disease itself, but also the damages in people’s mind, sense of self and family life as result of not knowing what is going on. That Iranian woman who told me she sees some people chasing her anywhere she goes or that Canadian young man who believes some pedophiles are always following him. What is the difference between them? Well, in the case of the Iranian woman, she does not have any information or knowledge about schizophrenia she is dealing with. Moreover, this woman does not tell how she always and everyday sees those people who tell her she should commit suicide. Why would not her tell? Well, she thinks it is bad to tell how she sees those people because others would think she is “crazy.” She keeps up her face in some areas, while she could be harmful to herself or others.
One the other hand, in the case of the young Canadian client, he does talk about his issues openly and seek help from his psychiatrist. Although there is no way to weigh the level of pain and suffering amongst two people, still we could tell that level of education and social support does make a difference. I challenge professionals in the field of mental health to pay more attention to how the cultural beliefs in their client might be the cause of unnecessary pain.


Mass Shooting in Colorado

Mass shootings are occurring here and there. Once in a while, we see those painful images with the shocking news that someone has opened fire on random victims. These stories are being repeated too often while most attention goes to the immediate response to a chaotic situation. Innocent people lose their life because the offender acts on his (seems like mostly men) anger. What was he this angry about so he could kill people for? Why this much hate?

All the profiling of the offenders can be interesting to watch on the documentaries, however how could that knowledge help authorities to prevent such tragedies? Surely, we cannot know what is going on in people’s head. Now in the case of mass shooting in Colorado Theater, the mother of this young suspect shooter James Holmes reportedly said something like” You came for the right person.” What did the mother know and how would she have been able to prevent this from happening? What was going on in his head to be able to do such a horrible crime? I guess the major question is “why, “whereas even knowing the motive for such crime does not help the pain and suffering that families of these victims are going through.
The scary news of shootings in schools and public places, freezes us for a while thinking where are we going to be safe. If people can be killed in shopping malls, schools, universities, and theaters, then where is safe? Main question is why these shootings happen? I guess there is no real and easy answer. May the victims and their families find some peace soon.


Despite Traumas; Seek the light

There are hopes and dreams while the level of uncertainty and ambiguity is high in the Middle East. The oppressive forces inflict more pain, as much as they are capable of, in order to stay in their blood draining hunt for power. Ordinary people are hurting due to loss of jobs, bad economy, careless actions by their governments, and internal conflicts.
Looking at Iran only, there are endless stories of trauma, tragedies, and suffering almost everywhere we turn to. A friend just coming back from a month visit in Iran is talking about how many stories of suicide she heard, how many young people she or someone she knew who had committed suicide. Young people scream for freedom while this scream is being suppressed badly and harshly. Obviously helplessness, hopelessness, and frustration are issues that many of us Iranians are now dealing with, more than ever before. What are the options really?
Daily and extensive human rights violations in Iran do influence us Iranians around the world; however people living in that big prison called Iran, are the one who are paying the price. The danger of war that the regime of Iran would love to have just adds to the pouring rain of tragedies on our people’s head. On the other hand, the request for freedom and the need for free voices have never been this noticeable.
For us, outside, although we are reading the news in the comfort of our homes, still frustration, disappointment, and fear are the real emotions we experience all the time or most of the times. On the other hand we read research results clarifying the relationship about stress/ depression/ abuse on people’s life. It is unfortunate that none of those researches can even touch one inch of the reality that our people are dealing with. In the west we talk about the relationship between our physical and emotional and psychological health. How about the psychological health of a nation who are kept hostile in the hands of most brutal men for 32 years?
Now what is the solution really? Listening to the daily stories of unfathomable implicit and explicit traumas is the salt on an open wound. However, we need to listen to one another in order for offer the other support, who else is supposed to do that if not us?
Would Prayers and positive energy help then? What would help?
I guess seeking support helps while we have to know where we come across that support. Most importantly is that we keep finding networks and groups that are helping us breath fresh air. We need to belong and we need to feel we can do something, even in the smallest scale. Get into groups and break the cycle of isolation maybe that is the first step. Despite all the odds, we have to survive, we have to seek the light that is inside us, the light of hope and the light of resiliency.


Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking is a decisive skill that has to be taught from the early ages. While critical thinking is pertinent to our daily life, it is not accepted or encouraged in dictatorships or oppressive systems. Still today in 2011, people are being told what to think and how to think.
Years ago, once searching for graduate school I realized that most universities offered a course called: Critical Thinking. This blew my mind. Along that line, in one of the courses for my graduate studies, we had a professor who at the end of each session would suggest readings while wishing us a “happy creative thinking.” To me, this was incredible, I kept telling myself, how could my thinking become happy or be creative at all while I was dealing with internal and external forces of oppression?
I came to think that no one had ever encouraged me or us for a happy thinking. While I was suffering from the fact that my countrymen and women were being killed at the same time in my home country because they were critical thinkers, here I was challenged to become overly critical of our compound planet.
I would look around and check for the critical thinkers in my surroundings. While people had that skill, yet their voices were low, they had almost no energy of thinking deeper, or they were hiding in the corners of each justified avenues for silently talking about the injustice in their home country. I could see that oppression had taken over critical thinking.
I had to gasp for breath when I recalled how our people have always been discouraged and punished for being critical thinkers.
Obviously, critical thinking for us Iranian is intertwined with fear, intimidation, harassment, and punishments. Now with the western movements such as Occupy Wall Street followed by a whole range of Occupy places, we would think that our younger generations are showing their potential for critical thinking by demanding for reforms. Perhaps our younger, multicultural, social media generations have learned to be critical thinkers in the school of hardships and in the aftermath of poverty and injustice.
However, still it is significant that universities and academic institutions around the world offer critical thinking courses and keep encouraging people to actually thinking critically.
Surely, our current situation in the world requires critical thinking for finding new creative ways in dealing with the most challenging issues in our human history. Human being is without a doubt thirsty for widespread humanity, peace, freedom, respect for everyone’s rights, and justice more than ever before. We need to question the status quo while offering a platform for the new ideas.
Thinking critically could become a habit, a source of gathering strength, a way for expressing the self, a method for organizing one’ thoughts, an avenue to download what is bothering, search for answers and new ideas a plan for next actions and a structured way of hoping for change.
Therefore, critical thinking is entangled with the freedom of speech and human rights.