India needs more counsellors, say experts

October 26th, 2010 - 10:46 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, October 26 (IANS) With a large number of people suffering from mental diseases, the stigma attached to going for counselling needs to be fought, experts said here on the second day of Indira Gandhi National Open University’s (IGNOU) launch-cum-orientation programme for its Master’s in counselling.

“In this modern day stress, where people are busy and have no time to make friends or talk to anyone, what sustains us is the emotional support. Good counsellors will be able to cater well to the psychological and sociological issues surrounding modern day lives,” chief guest and Delhi’s Minister for Health and Family Welfare Kiran Walia said Tuesday.

“The stigma attached to going for counselling should be looked into,” she added.

She also said the introduction of M.Sc. in Counselling and Family Therapy introduced by IGNOU will be welcomed by people from all sections.

Arun Banik, director at the National Centre for Disability Studies (NCDS), IGNOU, said that since the university’s reach goes beyond cities, such a course will help rural areas too.

“A large number of people in our country are suffering from mental disability. Counsellors trained in this course can provide servcies in rural areas whenever required,” Banik said.

The man behind conceptualising and developing this course, vice-chancellor V.N.R. Pillai stated the need to provide counsellors in offices and other institutes.

“The Delhi government has made it mandatory for schools to have counsellors. We need counsellors in schools, other instituitions and organisations. There is a huge dearth of counsellors not only in India but worldwide,” Pillai said.

Speaking at the course launch Monday, R.K. Srivastav, director general of health services, said: “1.8 percent of the population in the country is suffering from mental illness. And according to World Health Organisation, 14-18 percent of population suffers from psychosomatic problems. We require 2 crore professionals, because any disability affects the whole family. These types of programmes will plug the gap in the area.”

The programme will focus on hands-on experience for the learners. Half the credits for this programme are earmarked for application-oriented learning.

The second year of the programme will have options of marital and family therapy, child and adolescent counselling and substance abuse counselling and therapy.

There is also an exit point for learners after a year of the programme in the form of a PG (post-graduate) Diploma in Counselling and Family Therapy.

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