A three-day conference on ‘Social Work Practice, Emerging Trends and Challenges’ commencing on Friday will mark the Golden Jubilee of the Department of Psychiatric Social Work at the Central Institute of Psychiatry (CIP), Ranchi.
The conference will also mark the completion of 50 years of the Indian Society of Professional Social Work (ISPW) – a national conglomerate of psychiatric social workers and doctors constituted in Ranchi half a century ago.
“It is a proud moment for all of us at CIP that an initiative taken at this institute 50 years ago has reached new heights. Today, the society is in dire need of more psychiatric social workers, and the conference will focus on the various challenges and emerging trends in the field of psychiatric social work,” said CIP Director Dr. D Ram.
Psychiatric social work is a field of psychiatry that helps mental health patients reintegrate in the society after their treatment is over. This process requires expert guidance due to the stigma and superstitions related to mental illnesses in India, especially the rural society, said doctors. A psychiatric social worker also helps patients cope with unfavourable social conditions that may aggravate their mental illnesses. These professionals study the social settings of a patient, help him or her adjust in it, and also spread awareness about the various mental health concerns.
One of the most common objectives of psychiatric social work is to identify substance abuse and initiate treatment for de-addiction.
Substance abuse is often either a reason or an outcome of an adverse social surrounding or situation, said doctors of the institute. “People often develop the tendency of substance abuse at a young age. And it gradually starts affecting their mental health depending on the social surrounding,” said Dr. Christoday RJ Khess, the Director Professor of Psychiatry at the institute. “For instance, if a man addicted to alcohol or marijuana gets married, his spouse may get to know about his addiction and raise objections.
The patient in this situation feels helpless and relies more on substance as he feels that his family fails to understand him,” added Dr. Khess, who is also the director for the conference.
CIP Director Dr. D Ram said that there are four pillars supporting the larger umbrella of psychiatry. The four, he said, are psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, psychiatric social workers and psychiatric nurses. “We need a balance between all the four pillars in order to effective address mental health issues. There are many mental health disorders that require support from more than one of these pillars. For instance, only medicines may not treat a patient of depression. He or she may also require psychotherapy,” said Ram.