Post Mortem

Need for clinical psychiatrists or counsellors

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 4/17/2019 12:26:01 PM IST

 Every now and then we see some religious leaders or gurus hospitalised and taking help of doctors and medicine to recover their health. Even religious gurus have realised that they need science and real medicine to heal their body.

When we have headache, we take paracetamol. When we have heart disease, we do bypass surgery. For all our body problems we use science and medicine. But isn’t it strange that for our mental health, we use terms like defeating devils, demons and evil spirits. 

People suffer from many physical illnesses and to cure them we have many scientific remedies in Nagaland. In the same way, people also suffer from many mental illnesses. But we don’t have many scientific remedies in our state for mental illness. Why is the government ignoring our mental health? Some are born physically healthy; some not. Some may be healthy but due to some accident, the body can be injured.

Same is the case with mental health. Some are born mentally healthy, while some are born mentally unhealthy. And some may be mentally healthy but due to some bad events, their mental health may become bad. Stress, poverty, rape, tribal wars, physical assault etc can harm the body. In the same way these events can hurt the mind. 

If for physical damage, we use science and medicine, then why not science and medicine for healing the mind? Since there is a vacuum for mental healing, many religious quacks and gurus have come up who blame our mental problems to demons and evil spirits.

The state government do not expect religious bodies to heal physical illness like diabetes, TB, cancer or HIV. Similarly, it should not expect religious bodies to heal mental illness. After a national mental health survey, president Ram Nath Kovind said that the number of people affected by mental health issues in India is larger than the population of Japan. Nearly 10% of Indians had one or the other mental health problems. 

There are many types of mental health problems. They include depression, dementia, alzheimer’s disease, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, psychotic disorders, eating disorders, personality disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and so on.

People who have mental health issues are already weak and scared. The last thing they need is religious healers telling them that they are sick because there is a demon or evil spirit living inside them. After prayers or performance of religious rituals, when the sick continue to have the problem, they start to believe that the evil spirit or demon is still inside them. This kind of theology will soon drive the sick insane.

Psychologists, marriage and family counsellors, substance abuse counsellors, psychiatric nurse and so on are real needs of the people like police, doctors and lawyers. In fact, people need mental health specialists on a daily basis much more than the occasional need of doctors and police.

Therefore, it is the need of the hour that the state government appoint clinical psychiatrists or counsellors starting from each village. If we can have schools and teachers in every village, it should not be hard to appoint one psychiatrist in every village. At the same time the government must pursue a continuous campaign to spread awareness and end stigma and discrimination.

Lelen Singsit, 

Kuda Village, Dimapur

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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