Cover Story

Mind matters

January 20 - 26, 2021

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

Gulf Weekly Mind matters

Bahraini sisters Narjes and Basma Faramarz Kazerooni recently launched a mental health application that offers people guidance in finding experts in the field, understanding various disorders and removing the stigma surrounding psychological well-being.

The NFS app, pronounced ‘nafs’ which means ‘the self’ in Arabic, was conceptualised by Narjes, 23, while she was interning at a psychology clinic and helping at Basma’s Applied Behavioural Analyst Centre, called Brilliant Achievements, that provides support for special needs children.

“I noticed while working in these different fields that there was a gap in mental health awareness and it was difficult for people to find what they needed,” explained the founder and CEO of the app who is also a postgrad student who is completing her Master’s in cognitive neuropsychology at the University of Kent.
“That’s when I thought, why not create a platform that can provide services related to mental health all under one umbrella.”

Basma, 38, who is an applied behavioural analyst therapist, was also delighted by the initiative as she would feel helpless at the times she couldn’t direct parents or people in finding the right therapist for them, or material to aid them during their struggles.
The mother-of-two said: “We’ve all struggled with mental health at some point, whether from depression, anxiety, anger, trauma or even a combination of difficulties.

“That’s what life constantly throws at us. Narjes has personally struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety while I was a victim of bullying due to my psoriasis and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

“With NFS, we hope to start the path towards people feeling more comfortable with the idea of seeking mental health assistance. It should no longer be taboo when you want to seek out help.”

The app was developed by the Fathom company and will act as a platform that provides several services such as locating and booking appointments with a range of therapists, psychiatrists, behavioural analysts, psychologists and music therapists.

It also features a blog wall that includes various articles on mental health, a 24/7 domestic abuse hotline and a store for people to purchase items including pre-approved psychology books, materials for special needs children and worksheets.

While the app in general is free of charge, therapy sessions and store purchases can be paid for.
The sisters also created characters called NFS monsters that represent different disorders and describes each condition.
For example, there is a bipolar monster named Basma, a depressed Maryam monster and a dyslexic Khaled.
Narjes added: “The goal is not to learn how to avoid or eliminate the issues, as that is impossible.
“We need to strengthen the foundation within ourselves and to be so well-equipped in knowing how to face and deal with whatever mental health obstacles and life challenges we might face.

“We hope to help people learn how to become the best version of themselves which, in return, will result in a higher-functioning community.
“Like we always say, you can’t help others if you can’t do that first for yourself. Just like during an emergency plane landing - you first place the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others!

“NFS is here for the people of Bahrain and the rest of the Middle East. We hope that it will be a useful tool in building our community and for all of us to start taking better care of our-‘NFS’.”

The app is available on Android and Apple Stores and there is a direct link from the website.
For details, follow on Instagram or email [email protected]
*For insights on the psychological benefits of pets.

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