| Dhaka, Thursday, 22 February 2024

Saima advises appointment of psychologists in schools

Update : 2015-09-02 15:07:45
Saima advises appointment of psychologists in schools

Internationally reputed mental health expert Saima Wazed has suggested appointment of psychologists in schools to address the widely ignored psychological issues of children and ensure their healthy mental development.



"School psychologists are professionals who can help children and youths achieve success academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally," she said in an article, made available to BSS today.

Saima, a member of Expert Advisory Panel on Mental Health of World Health Organization (WHO) and Chairman of National Advisory Committee on Autism and Neuro-developmental Disorders, said despite Bangladesh's achievement in bringing mental health issues to the fore "making provisions for having psychologists in school is still unchartered territory for us".

"Introduction of school psychologists in the schools and educational institutions in Bangladesh would be a very positive move towards the healthy mental development of our children and youth," said Saima, herself a licensed school psychologist.

She said as part of their professional service these school psychologists would work for, and together with, students, parents, teachers, pediatricians, neurologists, school administrators, community service providers, social workers and therapists.

Saima's article came as in recent years she is spearheading a campaign for the mental health development of the children with an extra emphasis on addressing the issues of autistic children in the country.

She said introduction of psychologists in schools was crucial as they were required to "improve academic achievement; promote positive behavior and mental health; support diverse learners; create safe and positive school climates; strengthen family-school partnerships; and improve school-wide assessment and accountability".

"There are a myriad of problems which can be faced by children and youth related to learning, social relationships, complex decisions, managing emotions etc," she said.

The school children, Saima said, could also suffer from depression, anxiety, worry or isolation while the "psychologists can come into play in such situations by understanding and resolving the short-term and long-term issues and problems faced by the children and youth".

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), school psychologists provide a range of psychological diagnosis, assessment, intervention, prevention, health promotion, programme development and evaluation services with a special focus on the developmental processes of children and youth within the context of schools, families and other institutions.

They intervene at the individual and system level, and develop, implement and evaluate preventive programmes and carryout ecologically valid assessments and promote positive learning environments for the healthy development of children and youth.

Saima said although the profession was yet to be mainstreamed "in our part of the world", currently around 100,000 school psychologists were working in more than 48 countries of the world including USA, Spain, Canada, Japan and Turkey.

"School psychologists can be typically seen working in public and private schools, universities, school-based health and mental health centers, community-based day-treatment or residential clinics and hospitals, juvenile justice centers and even in private practice (in Bangladesh as well)," she said.

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