India gets its first ever burn survivor self-help group

The idea is to restore faith and bring back hope among the patients. We worked on this model of discussion for primarily making them believe that it’s just like a talk session rather than making it like a therapeutic session

India gets its first ever burn survivor self-help group

Like a phoenix rises from the ashes and grows stronger, so can people who have undergone hardships. Inspired by a self-help group from the United States, the National Burns Centre (NBC) at Airoli, Navi Mumbai, has undertaken a one-off initiative for helping Burn Survivors’ NBC.

This initiative was started seven months ago to make sure that those who have received treatment, should also be helped on a psychological level. In order to overcome the trauma they have been experienced.

“We need to understand treating burn injuries are very challenging. It is not only challenging for the patients but also for their families and doctors. Everything is unpredictable when it comes to burns,” said Dr Sunil M Keswani, Cosmetic surgeon and Medical Director at NBC.

India gets its first ever burn survivor self-help group
Dr Sunil Manohar Keswani, Cosmetic surgeon and Medical Director at National Burns Centre

“We recognise that even after treatment, a patient may develop post burn psychosis (PBP) which affects their self-esteem in a huge way. This at times could lead to depression,” he added. “Inspired by the Phoenix Society (a self-help group for burn survivors) from America; we have started this initiative here. It is the first time in India and moreover it’s absolutely free of cost.”

Dr Keswani has a team of a clinical psychologist and psychiatrist as the coordinators of the self-help group. The idea is to restore faith and bring back hope among the patients. “We worked on this model of discussion for primarily making them believe that it’s just like a talk session rather than making it like a therapeutic session. I just manoeuvre the conversation they have, but otherwise it’s pretty much like a talk session where everyone puts forth their survival story,” said Jessica Ghadge, Clinical Psychologist at NBC.

“We choose about 6 to 8 patients around a similar age group, who can share their experiences of tackling symptoms due to burns such as itching, pain, deformity and rehabilitation both physical and psychological.”

Soothing words act as a healing touch to burn survivors “The thing is they all relate to some kind of pain. So the advice that they exchange is welcomed happily. Essentially, the burn survivors seek solace from each other. And at the end of these sessions they go back home happier and more contented having discussed their problems and how each one of them can be tackled with like-minded individuals. All in all, the ‘burn support group’ acts as a balm for the physical and psychological pain of burn survivors. We conduct these sessions once a month on a Wednesday afternoon at the National Burns Centre,” added Dr Keswani.