Developments at the Intersections of Psychology, Policy and Law

A monthly segment of psytizenship

Let’s begin with a couple of announcements:

First, since the beginning of psytizenship, I have wanted to write at least one article every week. The primary attractions are consistency and timeliness, but due to various reasons (mainly procrastination and COVID-19 issues), that has not happened, yet. Beginning today, you will get to read a new article on psytizenship every Friday. I am not very active on social media and don’t like posting article links there, so to stay updated, it would be better if you subscribe and get the latest pieces in your email inbox. That would also be a cool way to show your support to psytizenship.

Second, I am experimenting with a new segment entitled ‘Developments at the Intersections of Psychology, Policy and Law’ containing latest updates from the field (with a particular focus on India). I will be sharing news, articles, court judgements, government orders, laws and research papers in this segment. The planned frequency is once a month and the last Friday of a month is reserved for it. If you come across anything which can be posted in this space, please write to me at ajay@ajaygulzar.com.

Following is the first edition of Developments at the Intersections of Psychology, Policy and Law.

1.     The higher courts of India rarely consult psychologists on relevant matters. For that matter, even the policy and law makers extremely rarely speak with psychologists. So, it came as a pleasant surprise when Justice N Anand Venkatesh of Madras High Court decided to consult a psychologist in a matter involving two woman petitioners whose relationship was “not to their [parents’] liking” and therefore, they were forced to leave their city.

Justice Venkatesh wrote in the order that he “thought it fit to refer the Petitioners and their respective parents to a counsellor who specialises in working with LGBTQI+ individuals. This move becomes very vital since this Court is moving into uncharted waters, and a report from a specialist will provide support to this Court to move forward in this case.

He further wrote, “I am also trying to break my own preconceived notions about this issue and I am in the process of evolving, and sincerely attempting to understand the feelings of the Petitioners and their parents.”

In this regard, Justice Venkatesh also sought an appointment with the psychologist to understand same-sex relationships better. He wrote:

“Insofar as the request made by the learned counsel for the petitioners for setting out guidelines in cases of this nature is concerned, I want to give myself some more time to churn. Ultimately in this case, the words must come from my heart and not from my head, and the same will not be possible if I am not fully “woke” on this aspect. For this purpose, I want to subject myself for psycho-education with (psychologist) and I would request the psychologist to fix a convenient appointment for the same. I honestly feel that such a session with a professional will help me understand same-sex relationships better and will pave way for my evolution. If I write an order after undergoing psycho-education, I trust that the words will fall from my heart."

2.     In an order, the Delhi High Court asked the National Insurance Company Ltd, which rejected a woman’s claim for reimbursement of costs for treatment of schizophrenia, to comply with the provisions of Mental Healthcare Act 2017 and “held that her claim for ₹6.67 lakh was reimbursable as she was entitled to it. The court also imposed a cost of ₹25,000 on the insurance company to be paid to the woman for forcing her to opt for litigation to claim reimbursement.”

Moreover, “the High Court remarked that it was “clearly getting the feeling” that the insurance regulator [IRDA] was not taking action against the companies and was only taking steps when judicial orders were passed.”

3.     Can money prevent suicides? A study, led by global health and social medicine expert Daiane Borges Machado, investigated the effect of Bolsa Familia, the world’s largest conditional cash transfer programme, on suicide rates in a cohort of half the Brazilian population. The results:

“We evaluated the impact of the Brazilian Cash Transfer Program on suicide outcomes over a 12 year follow-up [2004-15] and observed that those receiving Bolsa Familia had a 61% lower risk of being a suicide victim than non-beneficiaries. The results were more pronounced among women and young individuals. These results demonstrate that economic interventions, such as Conditional Cash Transfers, contribute to the reduction of suicide, presumably by reducing poverty-driven hardship.”

Universal basic income, anyone?

Do read this article by Tanmoy Goswami on the study.

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Did you recently come across any important development at the intersections of psychology, policy and law? If yes, please share in the comments section.

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