Despite rising number of student suicides, Kota still short of clinical psychologists
The newly established Psychological Counselling Centre, initiated in September in Kota, currently operates without a clinical psychologist
Despite 26 instances of suicide by coaching institute students in 2023, the highest in a year, Kota still faces a shortage of clinical psychologists to deal with mental health issues of about 2.50 lakh coaching students preparing for various entrance exams away from their homes.
The Psychological counselling Centre, set up in September this year in the New Medical College Hospital in Kota in compliance with the Rajasthan government's budget announcement, has no clinical psychologist. There is only one clinical psychologist appointed at the NMCH against the demand for at least five, and it lacks an adequate number of trained staff.
Non-availability of MPhil holders in clinical psychology in state medical colleges has further aggravated the issue, as those serving in government medical colleges are degree holders from other states and are not enough to meet the demand.
Dr Vinod Kumar Daria, professor in the department of psychology at NMCH, told PTI that he had chalked out a proposal for an MPhil course in clinical psychology in government institutions and forwarded it to the state government in January last year. The proposal was approved, leading to the announcement of the Psychological Counselling Centre with skilled clinical psychologists.
The centre was launched (without any additional budget, however, and the commencement of the MPhil course and appointment of clinical psychologists is still pending, Dr Daria added.
Parents from across the country get their wards admitted to the numerous study centres in Kota, and a high inflow of students is routine in Kota, Sikar and Jaipur. Clinical psychologists are in acute demand in the state, Dr Daria said, pointing out that the inflow of mental health-related patients in government medical colleges is sufficient to start an eight-seat MPhil course in clinical psychology.
Admitting an acute shortage of clinical psychologists and expert counsellors, Dr B.S. Shekhawat, head of the department of psychology and additional principal at Government Medical College, Kota, told PTI he had written for clinical psychologists and counsellors; however, they were yet to be appointed.
Dr Shekhawat claimed one expert clinical psychologist is available in the department and he is in service with faculty of the department and MD students. He has also undergone training in clinical psychology.
Dr Shekhawat stressed that psychologists should be trained with adequate experience. "They have extended professional psychological counselling to around 400 patients, most of them coaching students, since the counselling centre started in September," he said.
Principal secretary, medical education, T. Ravikant did not respond to WhatsApp messages for his comment on the status of the proposal for the MPhil course and the requirement of clinical psychologists in the state.
Meanwhile in the private sector, there are reportedly three-four clinical psychologists, including a couple of them employed by two large coaching institutes.
Currently, a team of 96 counsellors with two clinical psychologists are working under him and extending psychological counselling and treatment to students at various centres in the city, Dr Harish Sharma, principal psychologist at one of the coaching behemoths in Kota, told PTI.