Dr. Neha Kansara- A musical Psychiatrist
The definition of success is a matter of perspective. Everyone is successful in some or the other way as they feel best to allow themselves to feel better. While many stand out in doing so, some need a little additional help. This is when we are aided with the wisdom and patient ear of a psychiatrist!
I am humbled to have won the opportunity to interview Dr. Neha Kansara, a U.S based psychiatrist who is setting her own level and standards of success. While some might think that people at a certain level are difficult to converse with and get to, Dr. Neha sets herself apart as a very approachable and sorted! We also tend to set a serious image and personality of such professionals, and yet again Dr. Neha stands apart. She is an extremely enthusiastic and lively a person, free from all notions!
To begin with, please tell us about yourself. What you do, and how do you see yourself?
I was born in Mumbai, India, spent a few years of my childhood there before moving to the Middle East for education. I then followed my family’s footsteps that paved my path into the field of medicine.
I have successfully completed my medical training and graduated from Padmashree Dr. D.Y. Patil Medical College, Navi Mumbai, India. I then decided to give my career further boost and pursued higher education that included residency and fellowship in the United States. I have travelled all over the US to chase my dreams of becoming a Psychiatrist. Today I practice Psychiatry in the US and spread awareness as a mental health advocate.
You chose to be a psychiatrist, which is a perception that remains a taboo in India even today. We come across a lot of negligence with people assuming that only crazy people go to psychiatrists. Your take on that?
Unfortunately and sadly, mental health is still considered a taboo in the Indian society and it breaks my heart because mental health is of utmost importance for a human being to function. If there is a sound mind, then there is going to be a sound body. I hope someday the awareness created by social media, mental health professionals and activists/advocates brings our society to take this important step towards their mental well-being. “Coming out and seeking mental health services in our society requires the courage and with professionals who are willing to help, I say please do not shy – Just go for it. The first step is the most important one”
On a fun note, I hear you are a fashionista; what is it that you love the most and what brands are your favourite? Are you brand conscious?
Hahaha…. The words Fashion trend, designs, and brands go hand in hand with me and my name (winking). So to answer your question on a fair note: I am not highly brand conscious and do not endorse a particular brand per se, however, I do have my own few favourite brands and designers who I follow. My mantra with fashion is to dress perfectly for the occasion and bring about the best in me “Inner beauty can be depicted when you feel comfortable in your skin and what you wear”. I do love certain International brands since I have been living in the US for some time now. To name a few, I prefer clothing from Zara, Banana republic, Express, Ann Taylor Loft, Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Ralph Lauren and BCBG Maxazria. I am a huge fan of bags and shoes and I have my own personal collection – My top favourite designers are Christian Louboutin, Valentino’s, Jimmy Choo, Aldo, Coach, BCBG Maxazria and Guess.
Last but not the least my makeup brand is a French chain of cosmetics called Sephora and I use several sub brands from their store such as Bobby Brown, Chanel, Smashbox, Too Faced.
It feels great while I say this, that you are amongst the few in International Medical Doctor’s in the US to have accomplished being a Perinatal/Infant/Child/Adolescent and Adult psychiatrist! No doubt this makes you feel good, how has this journey been?
Yes, I definitely feel well accomplished at a young age and have been able to pursue my dreams that adds to the wonderful feeling of happiness and joy. When you pick the journey of becoming a doctor it’s not just you as an individual who goes through it, but the entire family becomes a part of this journey. I have been supported in this venture by my wonderful parents and husband who have always stood by me and encouraged me to pursue my dreams. This journey would not have been possible without them, and therefore I call them my pillars. After long standing years of hard work, sleepless nights and tons of sacrifices; I can happily and proudly say that today I am a Perinatal/Infant/Child/Adolescent & Adult Psychiatrist and attribute this success to the higher power-God, my family, and my loving husband. I feel lucky to be amongst the distinguished set of people in this wonderful profession that allows them the opportunity to serve humankind of all races and ages across the globe.
We understand people having to come across a zillion day to day life challenges. While some can cope up, a few require additional help. In that case, What really does being a perinatal/Infant psychiatrist mean?
Perinatal and infant mental health is used to describe the psychological well-being of mothers and its impact on their quality of bonding with their baby. We encourage partners and families to help mothers and infants through this difficult time. Women are more likely to experience anxiety and depression during the perinatal period (pregnancy through to when the child is three years old) than any other time in their lives. Intervention during this critical period is essential to improve the health of mothers and their ability to nurture their child, and for infants to develop a secure attachment with their mother. I offer numerous support options to help mothers recover from perinatal mental health disorders and strengthen their bond with their child, partner, and family.
A little birdie tells me, that you are ardently passionate about music and are a trained Hindustani Classical musician. You are also now a part of a band in New Orleans, Louisiana called Chai and Coffee. What is the band all about and how do you manage the time for the same? In short, tell us about your musical life.
My eternal and endless love for music always existed as a child. I grew up amongst ambitious parents who believed in achieving high standards through education and at the same time being creative and involved in hobbies. Hence in the budding years of my life, I would constantly listen to music, participate in school functions, sing, dance etc. I then pursued a partial degree in Hindustani Classical vocals from Mumbai, India during the medical school era from the Jaipur Gharana after 4 years of strenuous training which I attribute to my guru/my teacher/my idol – Sarangee Ambekar tai. (tai means older sister in Marathi). I scored a distinction in vocals in both my exams and was recognized by the Maharashtra Mandal Music Society. It was tough to focus on medicine and music but since I was passionate for both, I made it happen. I then started singing at college shows back in the days and recently have pursued singing again in the US. I have joined a band locally and perform at live shows. It is definitely a challenging task to balance my musical, professional and personal life, but as I mentioned earlier that chasing my dreams has always been my passion and I personally believe that nothing is impossible if you put your 100% into achieving it.
We also hear that you use music as a therapy. How does that work and how is it practiced? I currently practice music as a therapy in my workplace and encourage my patients to use music as a therapy in their day-to-day lives. I encourage pregnant mothers to listen to soothing music in order to calm their nervous system which in turn gives a soothing environment for the foetus to grow and nurture. I also encourage music in the early infant development years as that creates a bunch of neuronal networks for a healthy brain growth and development. As you may know, musical instruments are best learned when young, that explains the theory of forming a bunch of neuronal networks in order to hear and play an instrument. I ask my older patients to pick a musical instrument or sing a song to give it a try for fun and they completely enjoy it.
We are well aware that even children are not safe; be it any issue, mental, physical or criminal, how do you suggest the guardians today be a part of their child’s life to maintain a healthy relationship?
Nature and Nurture play a huge role in child development. Guardians being primary caregivers to a child’s life can provide good health, protection, safety, and education which are some basic needs and in addition to the above, a safe haven should be an environment that needs to be practised in day to day life of a child with consistency in the environment.
What would be your message for the reader of The Complete Woman as a successful and Independent professional?
To summarise, I feel a great sense of gratitude, satisfaction, and achievement in being able to pursue my passion and my profession and maintain a healthy and a balanced lifestyle. I hope to be an inspiration to women all around the globe who strive for perfection, follow their passion and chase their dreams. I firmly believe that nothing should stop women or anyone at all from pursuing their dreams because it is possible to achieve what you want if you set your heart and mind to it.
“When there is a will, there is a way “
She signs off, leaving me refreshed! Her success story is the example that many women look up to; for it is one of balance. A balance between her struggle for what she does, her passion for music, her love for fashion and the bliss to enjoy every day of her life!