Neglect of mental health

There are no regulations that can prevent fake psychologists, psychiatrists from posing as mental health experts


September 14, 2021

It is appallingly upsetting that the government has not put in place rules to regulate mental health care in the country. The absence of a regulatory policy is producing grave consequences for those suffering from mental disorders and their families. There are rules and policies under which general medical practitioners, specialist physicians and surgeons function. Unfortunately, there are no such arrangements for mental health practitioners nor are there any code of ethics that define the limits of responsibilities of mental health practitioners or the rights of patients to seek remedies if their mental health deteriorates as a result of mistakes by consultants. This has enabled quacks to work as mental health practitioners.

Also, there are those that have entered the profession through the short-cut. They are in possession of only a diploma in psychology, which is awarded after a few months. This short course does not equip them to properly treat those having even minor mental issues. There are reports that patients’ conditions deteriorated instead of improving after they remained under the treatment of diploma-holder psychologists. Such patients and their families are unable to do anything against improperly qualified practitioners for lack of a code of ethics for the latter. Sadly enough, there are no rules and regulations that can prevent fake psychologists and psychiatrists from posing themselves as mental health experts.

This unhappy situation prevails even though the Supreme Court has declared physical and mental health part of the right to life. The Lahore High Court recently asked the federal and provincial governments whether there were rules to administer mental health practitioners. This is in spite of the fact that there is the Punjab Mental Health Authority supposedly to oversee matters pertaining to mental health. A petition has been filed with the LHC asking the provincial government to take steps to prevent mental illness and ensure that mental health practitioners are only genuinely qualified. Mental health is too serious a matter to trust it to quacks.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 14th, 2021.

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