Leading American psychiatrist, Dr Allan Tasman, was at KEM Hospital, Parel, on Wednesday to talk about the use of psychotherapy for treating depression. Hindustan Times caught up with the doctor, who heads the psychiatry department at University of Louisville, to discuss possible ways to curb suicides.
Many young people have committed suicide in the city recently. How can we address the problem?
I wish we could stop suicides. But we can do little. The environment is very stressful and because of that many children are growing up with very low tolerance levels. This makes them vulnerable and they respond to problems with self-destructive behaviour. One way of addressing the problem is to make psychological services available for children. No country in the world has enough child welfare services. Even in the US, only 20 per cent of children, who need evaluation, see a mental health expert. Schools and colleges in Mumbai should have counsellors to help children deal with the highs and lows.
Is the situation worse in the United States? What has the government done?
Suicide rates among adolescents in the US have trebled over the past three decades. It is not the government’s responsibility. But the medical community has responded to the situation. We have been educating and sensitising paediatricians so they can look for signs of depression or stress.
What can parents do to ensure their child does not slide into depression?
I think parents should teach their children ways to cope with stress. They should get involved in many different activities like painting or dancing that provide an outlet for emotions. It is also important to educate parents. I think couples that are expecting a baby should be advised to go for parenting workshops that talk about the development of the child.