Manmeet Singh Gill
Amritsar, March 18
An acute shortage of trained professionals at Punjab’s only mental health institute, Vidya Sagar Institute of Mental Health, Amritsar, is taking a toll on patients. The effect of the shortage of trained professionals can be assessed from the fact that patients have to wait for days to get consultations from a clinical psychologist.
Insiders said the ‘waiting list’ for those seeking a session with a clinical psychologist forces people to fall in wrong hands as family members get impatient and start seeking refuge in deras, babas and tantriks.
The institute at present has only one clinical psychologist against three sanctioned posts. Officials said that they had recently advertised the vacant posts and called applicants for an interview. Only one candidate appeared for the interview, they stated.
While clinical psychologists recognised by the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI) prefer to turn to greener pastures overseas, those left here too prefer a job at private rehabilitation clinics due to more money and relatively more freedom.
The employees at the institute stated that nearly 200 patients are admitted at the hospital for long-term treatment and many others come for weekly consultations.
It is not that the sanctioned posts in other categories are filled. In fact, the hospital is facing a shortage of manpower in other categories such as psychiatrists, psychiatrist social workers, technicians and even nurses as well.
Apart from patients from Punjab, the institute caters to the needs of mental care from nearby states such as Jammu Kashmir, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh.
Dr Savinder Singh, director at the institute, said, “The shortage of clinical psychologists recognised by the Rehabilitation Council of India is being faced all over the state. We have advertised the posts recently but only one candidate appeared.”
Dr Singh said that they are also trying to get recognition for initiating a course to train clinical psychologists. “Earlier, Punjab did not have any college recognised by the RCI but recently one has been started in Ludhiana,” he said, adding that for the vacant posts in other categories, they have already sent a proposal to the government.
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