Kota: Despite 26 cases of suicide by coaching 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 state government's budget announcement, has no clinical psychologist. There is only one clinical psychologist appointed at the NMCH against the demand of at least five, and it lacks an adequate number of trained staff.
Non-availability of M Phil in clinical psychology in medical colleges of the state has further aggravated the issue as those serving in government medical colleges in the state are the degree holders from other states and are short against the demand.
Dr Vinod Kumar Daria, professor (MD), the Department of Psychology at the New Medical College Hospital told PTI that he chalked out a proposal for M Phil course in clinical psychology in government institutions in Rajasthan and forwarded it to the state government in January last year. The proposal was approved leading to the announcement of a Psychological Counselling Centre with skilled clinical psychologists.
The Psychological Counselling Centre was started (without any additional budget), however, commencement of M Phil course and appointment of clinical psychologists is still pending there, Dr Daria added.
Because of better study culture in Rajasthan, parents from across the country are getting their wards admitted in Rajasthan and a further high inflow of students is expected in Kota, Sikar and Jaipur. Clinical psychologists are in acute demand in the state, Dr Daria said while pointing out that the inflow of mental health-related patients in government medical colleges in the state is sufficient enough to start with an eight-seat M Phil 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 the 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 at service with faculties of the department and MD students. He has also undergone training in clinical psychology.
"They have extended professional psychological counselling to around 400 patients, most of them coaching students since the counselling centre started in September this year," Dr Shekhawat said.
Principal Secretary, of Medical Education, T Ravikant did not respond to WhatsApp messages for his comment on the status of the proposal for the M Phil course in clinical psychology and the requirement of clinical psychologists in the state.
Meanwhile, in the private sector, there are reportedly three to four clinical psychologists, including a couple of them in two coaching giants.
Currently, a team of 96 counsellors with two clinical psychologists are working under him and extending psychological counselling and treatment to students at its various centres in the city, Dr Harish Sharma, principal psychologist at one of the coaching giants in Kota told PTI.