In his otherwise comprehensive analysis of the failure of several mental health programmes (“Repackaging Mental Health Programmes”, Editorial page, Nov. 4), Prof. K.S. Jacob states that “the majority of psychiatrists and their professional associations are indifferent to empowering general physicians.” I think he means general practitioners/family physicians. He goes on to aver that psychiatrists favour referrals to transmission of expertise. This is neither true nor fair. More than any other speciality, mental health professionals from private practice as well as from academic institutions engage in collaborative work with community medicine specialists. Many are involved in liaison work to educate general doctors in the realm of mental health across the country. The tragedy is that despite clamouring for over three decades for better undergraduate focus on mental health training, the powers that be refuse to recognise its importance. The Indian Psychiatric Society has made at least seven representations to the government as well as the Medical Council in this regard, with no tangible results beyond promises to “look into the matter”.
Dr. Ajit V. Bhide,
Head, Departments of Psychiatry & Family Medicine, St. Martha's Hospital, Bangalore
The article was thought provoking at a time when the American Psychological Association (APA) has designated the decade for the advancement of behaviour. The plight of mental patients is pitiable following the ban on non-governmental organisations having a hospice or mental rehabilitation centres after the Erwadi incident. As the writer points out, there is professional apathy. The government should liberalise issuing licences for homes which have the infrastructure and facilities. Most psychiatrists rely on drugs without exploring non-medical therapies that are useful and curative — in obsessive compulsive disorders, generalised anxiety disorders and reactive depression. Psychiatrists are not in favour of transferring expertise to primary care professionals.
Dr. G. Rajamohan,
Keywords: mental health