Psychological treatment : getting maximum from minimum resources

December 22, 2011

Graham Edward Powell
Mental Health problems are common in Bangladesh and have a serious impact. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), about 14 million people are suffering from mental illness in Bangladesh and the common problems are depression and anxiety disorders.
WHO says that the impact of depression on functioning is 50 percent greater than that of angina/chest pain, asthma, diabetes or arthritis. Around 40 percent of disability worldwide is due to depression and anxiety. But they are treatable with psychological methods.
Psychological treatment methods are based on scientific evidence and include behavioural activation, cognitive restructuring (helping people see things accurately again), exposure therapy (reintroducing them to situations they have been avoiding), problem solving, panic management, sleep abnormality management.
The need for psychological input is high, but there are not enough clinical psychologists. There are only 39 qualified clinical psychologists that is clearly not enough. Obviously there needs to be an increase in the number of clinical psychologists trained each year, and an increase in the number of government jobs, because there are only three government posts at present.
It should be noted that the recovery/remission rates after psychological therapy is about 76 percent for depression and 74 percent for anxiety. Clinical psychologists try to promote self help. The intention is to try to make information and self help available to all, e.g. with the web site, leaflets in primary care settings, TV programmes. radio, newspaper columns, magazine features etc. With a little professional input there can be guided self help. There can be advice from assistant psychologists who although not fully trained can have specific roles, working under the supervision of the clinical psychologist.
There needs to be public demand for the effective treatment that exists but which are not yet available to the people of Bangladesh.

Article originally published on The Daily Star

The writer is a trustee of the governing body of the British Psychological Society (BPS) & Clinical Psychologist, UK.

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