Week 6

Conference

I have yet to go on anymore site visits at my internship. I think the bureaucracy at in India is just a great deal slower, and I’m trying to be patient and persistent. Hopefully next week.

I did go to a conference this past week that involved the Juvenile Justice Committee, Childline, Ministry of Women and Children, Child Protection Committee, etc., but when I arrived I was told the entire conference would be in Hindi. Since I was already there I sat and observed and it was interesting to see the formalities that were conducted. There was candle lighting that was completed by the speakers before the conference began. Also, the power went out in the middle of the conference, but turned back on shortly after. (Side note: I flew out of Goa last weekend back to Mumbai and the power also went out temporarily at the airport. This seems to a norm in India.)

At the conference there was something said about “child friendly police stations.” This was one the only things said in English but I immediately thought about the stereotype that the police are grossly corrupt in India. I just wonder how the bureaucracy of corruption within elite entities likes the police, interfere with development in general. Money is motivating, so if government and authoritative personnel are primarily serving the rich, why would they listen to non profits and human service organizations in trying to create non corrupt places? It’s an interesting conversation regarding how to get community buy-in for new initiatives.

Research

In the mean time I am conducting my research for my initial literature review. I will be focusing on the counselling provided to parents during the repatriation process of bringing the child home after they have been living on the street. In India mental health counselling is a relatively new concept as of the 1930’s and doesn’t have a formal structure as it does in Western Cultures. It’s been interesting to read various scholarly articles on the issue because the question becomes, “is formalized mental health counselling appropriate for Indian culture?” India, being a collectivist society, doesn’t seek help for things, like emotional distress, outside of the family. If someone’s marriage is in trouble, the family intervenes first. If someone is having signs of depression or emotional distress, they will see homeopathic doctor or an exorcist. The current trend is that middle class and upper middle class will seek counselling. This makes sense because counselling services are not covered by insurance, so only people with a certain level of affluence can afford the service. Childline’s counselling with the families is described as a “conversation,” that is structured on a case by case basis to meet the family’s needs. This is very client-centered, and I wonder if adding a clinically, empirically significant intervention would add to the repatriation process’ success.

For mental health counselling, the country is lacking accredited programs and licenses to specialize the field. India has the second highest rate of suicide next to China, so there is definitely a need for this service, which in turn means making the service readily available and empirically significant is important. Although, my thinking that it needs to be empirically relevant is probably largely a Western bias. My roommate made a good point when trying to convince me that homeopathic medicine is credible on its own without Western empirical support. She said that Western science cannot use Western scientific methods to prove or disprove a different science such as Eastern medicine. You can’t use a different science to measure a different science. Basically western medicine and eastern medicine are like apples to oranges. So of course if you try to use an apple to prove that an orange is red, you would find that that is not valid.

Speaking of homeopathic medicine, my roommates swear by it. My roommate said she once went to a healer for a headache and the healer said her headache was caused by something in her neck. The healer cracked my roommate’s neck and her headache was immediately gone. I’m still not opposed to Ibuprofen, but it’s interesting to consider when talking about clinical interventions for medical and mental health interventions. Maybe its mind over matter, or maybe there is something credible to Eastern medicine.

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2 thoughts on “Week 6

  1. Neil

    I’m trying to reconcile your earlier question, “is formalized mental health counseling appropriate for Indian culture?” with the example and conclusion that there may be something to Eastern medicine. I don’t see anything that suggests an Eastern approach has successfully addressed the suicide rate and issues with the reparation/reunification process. The obstacles to accessing mental health counseling and support appear to be associated with political corruption and a family’s socioeconomic status. A family’s desire to seek help/solutions from within could be seen as cultural, but I still view this as being economically driven since that is probably their best and only intervention.
    That said, do you think counseling would benefit these children and families or are there cultural factors that I missed that would limit the effectiveness of this intervention on the poor and oppressed segment of India’s population?

    1. leanneth Post author

      Oh I mentioned the homeopathic bit from my roommate as a side note/tangent, I should have been more clear about that.

      I agree a family’s desire to seek treatment is greatly a reflection of the family’s norms within their family unit or village. In regards to counseling interventions with parents during the repatriation process, I think a combination of Eastern medicine, with a Western framework would be beneficial. This is just based on what I’ve read for the literature review portion of the research so far.

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