Asha workers not qualified to counsel: Dr P S Kiran

In the first phase, 171 PHCs will be raised to FHC status.

KOZHIKODE: Counselling for patients at the depression clinics at the primary health level being launched as part of Aardram project will be given by qualified staff nurses and health workers. The mental health programme office made this clarification following the allegation raised by psychologists that ASHA workers had been assigned to give counselling to the patients. As part of Aardram project, a baseline service of almost all specialties will be provided at the primary health level converting the PHCs to Family Health Centres (FHC). In the first phase, 171 PHCs will be raised to FHC status. Among the specialty clinics, depression clinics will start functioning soon as this year’s theme of World Health Day campaign is depression.

“It would help the people as early intervention and proper guidance is possible at the primary level. Statistics shows that 5-10 percent of population is suffering from depression and 21 percent of patients who visit hospitals for other diseases have depression. Among suicide cases, 91 percent are suffering from depression. Such depression can be identified at the PHC level and positive intervention can be made,” said mental health programme nodal officer Dr P.S. Kiran.

“The assigned staff will screen the persons using an internationally approved questionnaire and if the result is positive, the patients would be referred to doctors,” he added. “No ASHA workers are involved in counselling, but only qualified staff nurses and health workers like health inspectors / junior public health nurses. Health workers will only do the counselling for bedridden patients who cannot come to the centres. Misunderstanding about the project implementation has led to the protest by the psychologists,” he added.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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