Not many psychiatrists around
There is a dire need to train more medical and paramedical personnel in treating people with mental ailments.
The Vice Chancellor of Bangalore Univesity, M.S. Thimmappa (second from right), participating in a counselling programme as part of the course in Mental Health organised by the Manasa Educational Foundation for Mental Health. The Director of the Foundation, K. Ashok Pai, is by his side.
IT IS a matter of concern that while the percentage of the mentally challenged people is increasing alarmingly in the country, the number of psychiatrists and counsellors to treat them is woefully inadequate. Out of the 28 district general hospitals in Karnataka, only 13 have psychiatrists to treat those suffering from mental ailments. This points to the dire need to train more medical and paramedical personnel in treating people with mental ailments.
What is more disturbing is that the medical colleges in the State have hardly appreciated the need to impart courses in psychiatry; out of 28, only 24 offer courses in that discipline.
Viewed against this none too happy situation, the Post-Graduate Diploma and Master's (M.A./M.S) courses in mental health being offered for the last two years by the Manasa Educational Foundation for Mental Health in Shimoga assume great significance.
The courses are recognised by the Kuvempu University which has also recognised the Manasa Educational Foundation for Mental Health as its study and research centre in July last year.
As per a MoU, the Manasa Foundation offer courses through the distance education mode. The syllabi is approved by the Board of Studies in Mental Health of the Kuvempu University.
Admission, registration, examination, evaluation and award of degrees for these courses are made by the University in accordance with its regulations.
There are six one year, non-semester Diploma courses. The course structure includes five papers of which three are core papers and two optional in the subject of specialisation. In each paper, there is a written examination for 70 marks and the internal assessment based on assignments and project reports is worth 50 marks and the practical examination 100 marks.
The courses are:
Chemical Dependency Counselling
Psychiatric Social Work
Professional Counselling and Psychotherapy
Sexuality and Sexual Counselling.
The two-year Masters' Degree courses are
Master of Science in Sexuality and Sexual Counselling
M.A Psychology in Child Mental Health
M.A. Psychiatric Social Work
M.S. in Counselling and Psychotherapy.
For both Post-Graduate Diploma and M.A/M.S courses, the eligibility is graduation from any recognised university. However, preference in some courses is being given to medical professionals.
The Foundation organises a two-week-long contact programme in which it arranges special lectures by the experts in the field to provide instructions on subjects of study. These courses are being offered at four centres located at Shimoga, Brahmavar in Dakshina Kannada, Bangalore and Hyderabad.
Instructional materials prepared by experts and approved by the Kuvempu University are provided to candidates.
The Foundation allows the combined study of Post-Graduate Diploma and Master's. Of them, the simultaneous study of M.S. in Counselling and Psychotherapy and the Post-Graduate Diploma in Mental Health in Sexuality and Sexual Counselling is said to be the most popular.
As many as 290 candidates have enrolled themselves for the first year of the courses in mental health. Many of them are doctors, professors in medical colleges and sociologists.
The Vice-Chancellor of the Kuvempu University, K. Chidananda Gowda, has said that the courses are unique and need-based. "It is hoped that they will play a key role in disseminating authentic knowledge about mental health and produce skilled counsellors and supportive staff required in mental health institutions'' he said.
K.A. Ashok Pai, psychiatrist and recipient of the B.C. Roy Award in recognition of his contribution to community psychiatry is the Director of the Manasa Foundation.
He says that the objective of the Foundation is to offer courses which meet international academic standards and are at the same time accessible to a large numbert of professionals, teachers, graduates and housewives who may find it difficult to do the courses in the universities.
Dr. Pai, assisted by his wife, Rajani Pai who is the Deputy Director of the Foundation, says that it is his endeavour to make Shimoga a model mental health district in the next five years by which time the Foundation will have trained at least 1500 counsellors through the distance education mode to meet the patient-counsellor ratio as suggested by the World Health Organisation.
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