Welcoming the initiative, healthcare professionals say that it will not only help in the time of pandemic but will also prevent the public from being misled by those without the required qualifications.
The State Mental Health Authority will help keep a check on the availability of psychiatrists and mental health experts to seek help as per the requirement in specific districts. “With mental health being a major concern during the pandemic, we have a large number of workers who are counselling the affected people and their families. At times like this in future, district-wise data will assist to ensure that mental health experts can come forward to help people,” says Dr Poorna Chandrika, Director, Institute of Mental Health, Chennai.
Mental health experts say that the initiative would be the first step in eliminating unqualified professionals in the field who misled and fleece people with unscientific unproven remedies and add to the mental health stigma.
“Ideally people with psychological issues should be assessed by psychiatrists or clinical psychologists to decide the best treatment modality, be it medicines or counselling. This also enables the public verify the credentials of mental health professionals who they consult,” says Dr Vivian Kapil, consultant psychiatrist, SIMS Hospital.
However, experts say that regulation of mental health professionals should not come at the cost of commercialisation of the service. “The regulation and streamlining of workers would present the picture of adequacy or inadequacy of experts, especially when we are handling a pandemic. However, this should not be commercialised in the name of registration,” says Dr R Shanthi, member, Doctors’ Association for Social Equality.