2 of 3 Mental Health Experts in Mumbai Lack Skills to Counsel Sexually Abused Children: Study

Hindustan Times (New Delhi, India), December 25, 2017 | Go to article overview

2 of 3 Mental Health Experts in Mumbai Lack Skills to Counsel Sexually Abused Children: Study


Mumbai, Dec. 25 -- Two out of every three mental health professionals in Mumbai - a city ranks second in number of crimes against children (3,400 cases) in India - feel they lack skills to tackle child sexual abuse (CSA) cases. Experts said this is owing to lack of training related to trauma-focused counselling.

The finding was drawn from a study conducted by The Foundation, a non-government organisation, run by former rugby captain of India and Bollywood actor Rahul Bose. The study is supported by UNICEF. It reveals that 61 Mental Health Professionals (MHPs), who were part of the survey, shed light on achievements and struggles of both the survivor and the response systems of child sexual abuse cases. Nearly 77% - three in four - experts said it was emotionally overwhelming to handle these cases.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 13 children were murdered, 1,864 kidnapped and 979 assaulted sexually in Mumbai in 2016. Delhi tops the list with 7,392 cases. Maharashtra, is the second most unsafe state for children. in 2016, 15,147 cases of atrocities against children were registered in the state.

"Despite the sheer volume of child sexual abuse cases, there is no ground research to find out the role of MHPs in the system and how it can be made more effective. It was only after this study that we realised that MHPs have become an accessory in the scheme of judicial proceedings of these cases instared of playing an integral therapeutic role for the survivors," said Radhika Rathuri, author and chief researcher of the study.

The MHPs who responded to the online questionnaire collected, reported seeing more than 7,000 cases of child sexual abuse in the past decade. More than 50% of them said they experienced burnout at some point in their practice. Researchers said the burnout was related to feeling of incompetency to perform their job and wanting to quit the profession owing to the emotional or physical burden.

"An alarming number of practitioners didn't feel equipped to provide services to CSA survivors owing to their lack of training in trauma-focused counselling, lack of skills of working with children and the emotionally overwhelming nature of the work. …

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