In past few decades, the focal point of the existence, prevalence, and acceptance of mental health have increased. Compared to the past one century, we are far better off as a society in considering the possibility of mental health deterioration and illnesses.
There was a time when symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorders were considered to be demonic possession and other superstitions, leading to public outcasting, ostracizing and in some cases execution of the one questioned. But even today there is a certain stigma, incoherence, and ignorance around mental health related illness and problems.
This is exactly why we need more professionals in this area. Medicine and surgery have been largely focused on and glorified as the high paying occupation with which the 'serving the society' quotient are added on. Mental Health, thus loses out to the largely sought out physical health related job opportunities.
What is a Mental Health Illness?
Mental Health Illnesses are conditions that pertain to the cognitive and behavioral aspect of the human mind. These illnesses can be acute or chronic and do not restrict to any age, gender or residence. Though there can be a specific reason for certain behavior changes, Mental disorders are known to be caused by a complex interaction of biological, social, environmental, cultural and economic factors, thus one cannot pinpoint one reason.
The main focus is that people with mental health issues have problems in dealing with society and being social, if not treated appropriately. Also, if the illness is not looked into and the person is left without any help, they wouldn't be able to function in their day to day life.
What does a Mental Health Professional do?
As a mental health professional, you will be diagnosing people with mental health illnesses and helping them to cope up with their illness, by various methods which can be medical, psychotherapeutic, psycho-social or as a combination of various methods.
These areas of jobs can be of - counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, rehabilitation officers, and researchers. The main objective is to provide assistance and get them back on to lead normal social lives.
Psychiatrists and psychologist will be studying the behavior patterns of the patients. The psychiatrist will be conducting various tests and provide the diagnosis based on the symptoms.
Psychiatrists are trained medical doctors and therefore they can prescribe medicines and psychologists focus on therapy sessions for the patients. They can prescribe a few medicines if they have studied psychopharmacology.
A counselor's job is to take the patient through the therapy. Therapy sessions will differ from illness to illness and there will be various methods used, but the most important thing for a counselor will be to listen to what the patient has to say. They have to make sure that the patient does not get affected in anyways, and have to conduct themselves in order to get successful results.
Rehabilitation officers, help the patients, who have been under the care of psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors, and have now shown signs of getting back to leading normal lives. These officers will have to be very patient, understand the situation of each patient, but at the same time be strict with them. Rehabilitation centers, offer various methods and are a microcosm of the society where the patients re-learn societal norms and ways to live their life.
Mental Health research professionals focus on finding out new illnesses, try bringing medicines that can help patients with certain illness and study more about various illnesses. Research professionals add on to the existing knowledge on the various field of mental health which is helpful when it comes to treatment.
How to become a Mental Health Professional?
There are differences in the field of psychology and psychiatry when it comes to taking up academics.
Psychology requires 50% marks in all the subjects in XII board examination in any stream. If the student chooses psychology as one of their subjects, which comes under the Arts stream, they will have better information about their future.
They can take up an undergraduate course in Psychology, which can be an interdisciplinary course (along with other subjects like Journalism, English etc. that colleges like Kristu Jayanti College, Mount Carmel College, St. Xavier's college) or an honors course.
Following the undergraduate course, they will have to take up a Masters course, which will be M. Sc in Psychology. There are various types of postgraduate course, with a focus on Clinical Psychology, Abnormal psychology, counseling, organizational psychology, child psychology.
Following the masters, one can follow up for a Post-doctoral degree and continue their research and practice.
For becoming a psychiatrist, one has to take up biology, physics, and chemistry as their main subjects in the science stream.
They will have to take up MBBS, which is a five and half year course including the house surgency period. Following their graduation, they will have to get a post-graduate degree or MD in Psychiatry.
A diploma course or DPM in psychiatry can also be taken up, but the master's course is given more value when it comes to qualification. There is a third option, which is Diploma of National Board Exam (DNB) conducted by The National Board of Examinations and is equivalent to an MD.
After completing the needed academics, one needs to get experience, because that is the most important thing in this area.
Top Institutes offering courses in Psychology in India
- Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi
- Kristu Jayanti College, Bangalore
- Fergusson College, Pune
- Christ University, Bangalore
- Jesus and Mary College, Delhi
Top Institutes offering courses in Psychology in India
- University of California, Berkeley (UCB), USA
- University of Michigan, USA
- University College, London
- Jacobs University, Bremen
- Bochum University, Ruhr
Top Institutes offering courses in Psychiatry in India
- All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi
- Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh
- Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur
- Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
- Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
Top Institutes offering courses in Psychiatry around the world
- Harvard University, USA
- King's College London, UK
- Yale University
- Karolinska Institute, Sweden
- University of Amsterdam, Netherlands