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PARAPPULLY Jose, New Delhi says,
PSYCHOLOGISTS: UNRECOGNIZED AND UNDERRATED MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS. Holding Up to the Light - 12
By Jose Parappully
forum
360° VIEW
New Delhi, Jun. 24. Psychologists are mostly unrecognised and underrated in a world where psychiatrists and pharma companies rule the roost as far as mental health is concerned.

In terms of payment, psychologists are usually paid less than the psychiatrist. In most mental health settings there is a pecking order with the psychiatrists on top. At most mental health service internship cites, psychiatric interns would be paid for their services, most psychology interns wouldn`t be.

When some mental health issue comes up, media will contact the psychiatrist and get their opinion. Even though on an average the psychiatrist spends three minutes with their patients and psychologists fifty.  The psychiatrist will treat the symptoms of disease with medications, and the psychologist will seek to discover the roots of the disease and deal with the emotional implications, which no drug can treat. Psychiatrists know more about disease, psychologists know more about the person. The psychiatrist knows better the workings of a drug, the psychologist knows better the emotional dynamics that often trigger and maintain the disease.

The other day (June 23) an article appeared on the Editorial pages of The Hindustan Times in which the author discussed the Bill on the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences, passed recently by both the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha and which is awaiting consent of the President.

The author noted that there is need for ``wide ranging national debate`` on the bill and wrote: ``Not by politicians or NGO`s but by parents, principals, psychiatrists, paediatricians, other stakeholders like parents and guardians, and the teens themselves....`` (p.08). Notice the conspicuous absence of the mention of psychologists!

Yet, it is the psychologist who deals with the impact of the abuse on children and helps them to move toward healing. Drugs and paediatric care cannot do that. It is the psychologist who has a better understanding of the contexts and dynamics that lead to abuse. Yet, the psychiatrist and the paediatrician are invited to the debate but not the psychologist. Any debate on the Protection of Children from Sexual Abuse has to involve the psychologist who has a significant and irreplaceable contribution to make.

And it is time, the media woke up to the existence of psychologists and their expertise in the treatment of mental and emotional illness, particularly in the treatment of trauma that results from abuse and neglect.

For the record, the Bill- Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences - was sent to the Salesians to  give their feedback and suggestions, after it was introduced in the Rajya Sabha. And  a group of us did sent our observations and suggestions. However, it is my understanding that the same Bill was passed hastily in the Lok Sabha without much discussion or modification. That is a pity. The Bill, though a laudable initiative of the Government and a necessary one, has several serious shortcomings.

It is unfortunate that the Bill will now become law of the land without addressing those short comings. For example, the mandatory reporting will have serious implications for mental health professionals as well as Catholic clergy. No exceptions have been made to the requirement of reporting sexual abuse (both historical and ongoing) when someone comes to know about it, including what is learned in the Sacrament of Confession. Where was the Catholic Hierarchy?



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