Exploring the possibilities of bridging the Mental Health Service Gap in the Community
Keeping in view the needs of mental & psychological health of the people of the region and to concentrate upon its diverse aspects both at macro and micro level, a comprehensive meeting was chaired by Prof. Mushtaq A. Siddiqi, Hon’ble Vice Chancellor – IUST to look out the possibilities of initiating a process for establishing the Department of Neuroscience & Psychology at IUST. The following were present:
• Prof. Mushtaq A. Qurishi, Dean of Academic Affairs – IUST
• Prof. Mushtaq A. Margoob, Invited Expert
• Dr. S. Iqbal Quraishi, Dy. Registrar – IUST
The Chair, in his introductory remarks, opened the discussion by asking a straight question to the Invited Expert that whether we need to start a programme in cognitive and behavioral sciences to facilitate establishing a department of clinical psychology in the IUST given the present circumstances in the society, if yes, then what are the obligations and the road map for IUST.
Prof. Mushtaq A. Margoob in his power point presentation gave an extensive account of the pathetic Mental Health conditions in the region with a extreme paucity of infrastructure particularly human resource (hardly any psychiatric social worker or psychiatric nurses and only a few clinical psychologists) presently available and the initiatives taken thereof till date at the Governmental and Non-Governmental levels, besides highlighting the sad conditions prevailing in the community. Prof. Margoob emphasized on the severe continued adverse impact of the multiple natural disasters and chronic conflict related psychosocial humanitarian emergency issues among the large section of the society prevailing in the region particularly among the more vulnerable sub groups of the society including children, youth, women and elderly people and underscored the strong need of creating such facility and network in the IUST which can bridge the huge psychological support and mental health service related gap.
In the context of his regional, national and international affiliations and collaborations towards this goal he emphasized drafting a unique model for stabilizing the local Mental Health, which include Psycho-social interventions, preventive psychology movement, strengthening clinical psychological counseling, training of human resource and involvement of nurses and faith/spiritual healers (Pir, Faqir and Psychotherapists) for Psychosocial interventions particularly of trauma etc. Dr Margoob shared with satisfaction the details of the Innovative Low-Cost Model for Improving Mental Health Services in a Disaster Distressed Low and Middle-Income Country Setting developed and tested successfully by the joint SAWAB team (founded by Dr Margoob 1990) and the reputed mental health research team members of one of the most prestigious global community mental health institutes i.e. Douglas Mental Health University Institute of McGill University, Montreal and adopted as the most feasible model for promoting mental health among the youth and marginalized communities in Canada and also providing community services to treat mental disorders among them.( McGill University is a world-leading hub for basic and clinical neuroscience research).
He further informed that various universities have established various institutions such as Centre of Behavioral & Cognitive Sciences at University of Allahabad and Centre for Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience, University of Glasgow that brings together leading researchers who study social interaction, cognition, communication, and affect, creating synergy across these areas at multiple levels of explanation using the most sophisticated scientific tools available.
Dr. Margoob finally proposed in his presentation that in order to cater the needs of the community the IUST should systematically address the Mental Health problem by setting the immediate, intermediate and long term goals as follows:
a. Immediate Goal
Establishing Centre for Behavioural Neurosciences:
Get going with a core group of young scientists from the fields of clinical psychology, biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology to work under the supervision and guidance of leaders in the respective fields)&seek funding on multiple priority research projects.
Meanwhile the qualified staff (i.e. trained psychiatric nursing staff available with the University in it’s two nursing colleges) be introduced and trained to subsequently extend SAWAB-Douglas Mental Health University Institute low cast mental health service delivery model through the trained nursing trainees in the two districts as a part of the intermediate goal. SAWAB and IUS&T will work out a feasible roadmap for this.
b. Intermediate Goal
Establishing Health & Psychological Wellbeing Research/service Group:
The health and psychological wellbeing research group will be initially hosted within the Centre for Behavioural Neurosciences and subsequently when Institute or Department of Neuroscience and Psychology is established will function as a part of it. The research/service group will consist of members from within the department from areas such as clinical psychology, psychiatry, health and social psychology and applied research. The community service delivery modalities as envisaged and discussed above will be part of the activities.
c. Long term Goal
Establishing Institute or Department of Neuroscience and Psychology:
Because of the multidisciplinary nature of research to be carried out by members of the Behavioural Neurosciences group a continuing and overarching goal will be the integration of psychological and biological research objectives and techniques, through collaborations both within the state and outside. Meanwhile if and when a medical training hospital with a department of psychiatry becomes available to the university, the possibility of starting a clinical psychology training programme may be considered accordingly.
There was a detailed discussion after the presentation concluded, wherein, Prof. Siddiqi and Prof. Qurishi raised number of queries, and Dr. Margoob was asked about the mechanism of functioning and operations of the network of counsellors and their success rate thereof in rehabilitating the affected people. The the following was concluded:
Dr. Mushtaq A. Margoob to be associated with IUST as Visiting Professor to formally start the activity.
To procure a dedicated vehicle for starting a community based activity.
One faculty member from each nursing college of IUST who are qualified in Psychiatric Nursing are to be attached with Prof. Margoob to be trained as a fine tuned human resource and to prepare the list of immediate logistics to start the activity. The faculty members shall identify their respective localities wherefrom the activities could be coordinated further.
A Roadmap for future course of action to be envisioned discussed and proposed by Dr. Margoob strictly in the light of discussion held in the meeting on 15-07-2017, which includes, the international networking, collaborations, raising of project based funding and even signing of MoU with distinguished organisations around the world.
The meeting ended with a vote of thanks and the meeting was reiterated to be successful and shall pave way for effective decision making process in this regard to bear fruits for eliminating the Mental Health scenario in the region by a calculated, focused and result oriented approach.