As a person working in mental health in India, not only do I struggle with external problems (government doesn’t care two hoots, bad paying jobs) but also internal problems. Way too many professionals, like psychiatrists, counsellors and psychologists harbour patriarchal and sexist attitudes. While it is shameful that the do this in their practice, it is much more appalling that papers like Times of India would advertise such misogynistic views. Check out this post where a psychiatrist is openly and happily engaging in victim blaming when a girl asks him why she’s being asked for casual sex.
He suggests that her friendships with men, her behaviours, her drinking are why men ask her for sex! NOT THAT MEN CAN CONTROL WHAT THEY ASK FOR?
It is really sad that even being part of a helping industry, practitioners still continue to harbour the very attitudes that contribute significantly to mental health problems. Psychiatrists in India are especially notorious for these attitudes. In a post by a friend, a lot of clients shared their experience of trauma within treatment and therapy.
Why this happens is because India has absolutely no standards or ethics. We just adopt American standards and norms. There is no licensing and no fear of revoking the license. Practitioners, once done with their studies, can do whatever they want and no one can do any harm to them. Most psychology and psychiatry courses do not focus on social context, social justice, the experience of poverty and being on the fringes – all of which have a great impact on mental health.
We are already struggling with patriarchy in medicine where women’s concerns are not taken seriously. Sexist attitudes in gynaecologists restrict reproductive health services to women. The last thing we need is for mental health practitioners to join the league.
At a media level, newspapers really need to reflect the kind of attitudes they pass on through such “experts”. At a national level, finally, with a mental health bill in place, we need stringent licensing for the practising professionals. We need sensitization training for all doctors and paraprofessionals. We need education on social context, poverty and minority experience to be built into the syllabus. We need good mental health professionals, not Male Chauvinist Pigs sitting on couches. They are almost literally responsible for everyone’s peace of mind.