Behavioural Sciences: Full of Choices
This year’s World Health Day (April 7, 2017) focused on depression, a psychological condition characterized as “common cold of psychopathology”. The prevalence of depression is estimated to be more than 5% in India with about six crore sufferers. If we add those who suffer from anxiety then the number will swell to ten crores. When we have barely six thousand registered psychiatrists, there seems to be a grave need of a large number of clinical psychologists in this backdrop.
All over the world, a shift in paradigm is noticed where psychopathology is being tackled by a variety of psychotherapies. Recently enacted Mental Health Care Act 2017 and Rights of People with Disability Act 2016 endorsed of U N Charter and W H O’s commandments have further escalated the need for such professionals and the required infrastructure.
Psychology, especially health psychology, has adopted a more realistic and complete model of health, popularly known as Biopsychosocial model of health. A new professional avenue has come up where psychological interventions are being applied to patients suffering from several chronic diseases such as CHD, respiratory diseases, Diabetes etc. Health Psychologists can be seen in various esteemed hospital set ups guiding patients for their lifestyles assuming a role of life/ health coach.
A new area has grown into a super specialty of psychoneuroimmunoendocrinology where psychologists not only help to manage life stresses but also provide interventions. It focuses on chronic stresses and certain chronic incurable physical states.
All over the world, the psychologists are eyeing upon positive psychology-based programs for the last 20 years since paradigm shift. There is a lot of scopes which extends from individual-based strategies to large communities. Positive schooling and even positive military psychology have made inroads into not- conventional areas.
The emphasis is on the subjective and psychological well-being, in general, however, a shift on social/practical/ emotional intelligence than intellectual functioning alone is taking psychology to the farther nature of human beings leading to spiritual well-being. Wonderfully, we are marching toward hope and optimism for which a great human potential exists and for no reason, psychological recession of human capabilities be permissible any longer.
The Great Depression, the recent recession and other economic upheavals with global impact have given lessons for economic behavior to individuals and institutions alike. There is perhaps no asymptote level in the economic growth. The blending of psychology and economics can unfold hidden avenues where innovation and creativity may be harvested. All that is required is to develop human resources and genuinely depressing the talent and character strength. One has to learn to use time and money with their fullest utilization by taking appropriate decisions in life. Leisure planning and post-retirement life along with the proper handling of aging are now linked to your life coach/guide. Instead of institutional old age life, it is being recommended that community/ family based elderly stage living is much more satisfying. It has also put psychologist turned life coaches much in demand.
It is to say that psychology has made inroads to the lives of people in a big way for the well-being and betterment. The element of inclusiveness has become highly valued in all the policies at the national and global level. The findings of psychological studies reveal that importance of heterogeneity and variability for a richer life. Pluralistic cultures have emerged stronger and resilient than unitary ones in facing the present day adversities and crises. There is an urgent need to realize the importance of our cultural practices where there are inbuilt features to get going and become stronger in wake of stresses and difficulties. When the West is valuing Oriental social and health practices, and there has been a revival of Indian systems of health and medicine, it is apt to focus on psycho-educative and psycho-yogic practices now.
One of the most exciting research areas that has come up is cognitive neuropsychology. Newer technological advances have upgraded its methods for functional brain imaging ( FMRI, PET, ERP) by which neural networking and brain activation can be correlated with cognitive processes. It has further expanded interventions for neuropsychological conditions such as cerebrovascular disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, brain tumors and head injuries. With compounded number of patients requiring assistance for the speedy recovery and rehabilitation, a need for rehabilitation psychologists is also fast growing.
Thus, the modern life is opening new vistas for psychology every day. Psychology is a profession in the service of humanity and lets us start applying it for masses.
Professor, Faculty of Behavioural Sciences