Time and again I get involved with issues of child rights, especially where parents cause harm to their own child for their vested interests. A typical example is Parental Alienation, where a child is brainwashed against a specific parent for selfish motives, like bargaining in marital discord. No one seems to care about the deep psychological impact it has on the child. In most of the cases, even if successful in other areas of life, the scar in apparent in the personal life of the child. Again, instead of taking responsibility, the parent will blame the other.
But Parental Alienation is not the topic on which I write today.
What triggers this piece is the gross disregard that we see in society regarding mental issues. Again, I am not riding the ‘let’s talk’ fad here. That, in fact, adds to the narrative, that we do not know how to handle mental issues.
We feel tackling mental issues is as simple as taking a Paracetamol. The common notions swing from one extreme of popping pills to resolve such issues for good, to just ‘talking’ to an untrained person.
To list out a few examples here:
- A legal counsellor friend once made a blanket statement that psychological counselling also can be clubbed into his offering. I can’t recall, but did I hear him say, that he had a ‘paper’ on that as well?
- A senior citizen, highly respected in his field of work, keeps showing signs of severe depression. However, when I requested him to take counselling help, the prompt reply was “Will a counsellor earn on my behalf?”
- A colleague mentioned that his suicidal nephew got completely ‘cured’ after only a month of treatment, and discontinued therapy as it was unnecessary.
- A friend made the mistake of opening up to a ‘let’s talk’ forum, only to find screenshots of his chats and voice recordings of his calls floating around in their common groups.
It’s an endless list, when even general medical practitioners do not realise the difference between psychologist and psychiatrist. Even worse is when they promptly prescribe psychosomatic medicine without any inquiry into the patient’s social, psychological and behavioural factors.
During the pandemic, COVID helplines were set up to provide psychological support. Anyone who has called the numbers would have realized the futility. Just another check-the-box exercise.
On the flip side, many interactions with practicing psychologists give me the impression that the person is driving an agenda. Starting from marriage counsellors who advocate feminism, to child psychologists who are prompt in following the parents’ advice to keep the patient, to those who start comparing their own lives with that of their patients, you will find all sorts in the field.
That does not discount the fact that mental issues need to be addressed. It only points at the fact that we do not have strict monitoring because we are not taking it seriously.
Mental issues are hardly intuitive. No level of study is enough to understand how our minds work, but those who are trained can help us to some extent. So, if we know little or nothing on the topic, please, please let’s not feel compelled to put our minds to it.