Failure of Clinical Psychology Dept Means Failure of RIMS Authority

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    By: Babina Wahengbam

    The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.
    — C. S. Lewis

    There’s not a single person who does not face mental stress as mental health problems are continuously rising owing to mounting pressure in personal/occupational or social domains across various sections of the society. Herein, the Clinical Psychologists play an important role for optimizing health care delivery system. Various techniques and methods derived from several branches of psychology are used in promotion of mental health, and in prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of mental and physical disorders or problems where psychological factors play a major role. Different methods and forms of psychological techniques are also used to ease an individual’s emotional distress or any other forms of dysfunction or disability.

    Mention may be made about the importance of the subject in context to Manipur’s crisis torn situation, where most of the people face trauma of one mishap or the other. So in 2003, the Rehabilitation Council of India opened the M. Phil course in Clinical Psychology in collaboration with the Psychiatric Dept of RIMS to meet the demand for clinical psychologist for treatment and rehabilitation of mental and physical disorders. Not only is the dept one among the only 9 institutes offering M Phil course in India, it is also the sole institute in the whole of north east catering students from neighbouring states too.

    On an average, the Clinical Psychology Dept delivers health service to a thousand annually, who are suffering from mental stress and victims of drug abuse. Most of these are from the labour class who cannot afford to go to rehab centres. The Dept also works in close coordination with the psychiatric dept from time to time as and when required providing assistance to each other. Apart from this, the dept also handle cases referred from other NGOs that deal with health issues.

    And when there is an urgent need to train more number of professional clinical psychologists, speculation of closing down the dept has surfaced up just because there is no one to head the Dept. Earlier, RIMS had clarified against the said speculations saying that they have no intention to close it. But the fate of the Clinical Psychology Dept still hangs in mid air.

    Unless the entrance test for the new batch is taken, how can the Dept continue to offer service to the people? Unless students are enrolled for the next session how do you think the Dept can produce more clinical psychologists? Unless RIMS takes up the necessary steps to recruit a new HOD for the Dept, how will it continue to exist?

    The three-months verbal extension of retirement period for the current HOD certainly does not wipe out the speculations of closing the dept. Rather, it raises more questions making me think whether the extension is just to hush the students’ and public’s voice. The concerned authority may say that the exam for the present batch is over now and there is no need to worry but how genuine is the exam if the Chairman of the examiners is officially retired. And who will guarantee that the students will get license on passing the exam, going by the RCI protocols that the examination can be considered invalid if the HOD’s extension is not on paper.

    Meanwhile, the ISTV news reported that the intake of students for the current session 2010 has been placed in complete halt as none of the faculty members appointed are in regular basis. But isn’t it the concerned authority’s responsibility to look after the dept’s needs so that it can enroll students for next session? Isn’t it the duty of RIMS to recruit the required talents and let the dept continue to exist? Instead, the concerned authority is trying to get away from the main issues and blamed the dept by saying that it’s sabotaging the students’ career. The RIMS authority should blame itself for not being able to run the course in its truest sense and more productively, if it thinks the clinical psychology dept is lacking behind. The very blame on the dept shows how irresponsible and negligent the institute is towards the education of clinical psychology.

    In the said news report, the concerned authority went to the extent of saying that the fate of the students remained at stake after the authority of the department failed to convince the union ministry for appointment of regular faculties. But that is not a reason good enough to close down the dept so abruptly. If the RCI has allowed and approved the Dept to offer M Phil course, why can’t the concerned authority in RIMS work a little harder to appoint a new HOD.

    As per the RCI requirements, the clinical psychology dept needs one Associate Professor or above and one Lecturer or above in fulltime basis to make the faculty regular. This is not too much for the concerned authority if it really wants the dept to continue.

    I wonder what our Education Minister is doing till now. Why is he a silent spectator here? What is the use of having an education minister if he is least bothered about education? And what stake does he gain if the dept closes down?

    And where has the State Health Dept gone? According to the Manpower Development report, out of a requirement of 260 clinical specialists, only 107 are available with the organization to cater to the needs of the people. There is an acute need to train more professional clinical psychologists in order to meet the increasing demands in the new area. And yet, the Department of Health, does not care a fig whether the clinical psychology dept closes down or continue to exist.

    When all the medical fraternity is supposed to work together to develop the dept, the fraternity itself is turning its back. Some of the professors of RIMS blamed the former director Prof. L. Fimate and former head of department of Clinical psychology for creating the problem in the department. They also said at present the course survived for name shake only as there were no effective teaching and training programme during the 2 years M. Phil Course except for the three month training programme in NIMHANS Bangalore.

    Our intellectuals and intelligent professors should think twice before blaming the clinical psychology dept. If they cannot lend any help in saving the dept, they must not throw stones to justify their statement.

    Besides the poor and weak, I’m sure members from the fraternity must have also taken the help of the clinical psychologist at one point or the other to overcome their constant worry relating to kids and kins. Who does not face mental stress; everyone faces it, be it doctors or patients.

    And instead of producing more clinical psychologists to meet the rising demand, the concerned authority is too happy to put and end to the service and get rid of the dept. If the concerned authority thinks that the clinical psychology dept has failed, it is because the authority has failed in making it a better dept. The dept is not an autonomous institute; it has been serving only under the guidance of RIMS. So, it is the failure of the concerned authority and not the failure of the dept.

    (You can reach the author at babina.wahengbam AT gmail.com)

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