Since 2009, I have been involved in mental health related activities, primarily, supporting Schizophrenia Awareness Association(SAA) in Pune. Mental health is the area where there is such huge scope for work on different levels-awareness and stigma about the mental health issues, rights of persons with mental illness(PMI), laws relate to mental health, care giving, support by society and government, treatment, rehabilitation etc. The history and even the current state of affairs in the area of mental health is not very encouraging, not specifically, for India, but in general worldwide.
In the past I have written about how technology can help bridge some of the gaps in this domain. Today I want to write about another initiative, which focuses on families of PMIs. Families and family support one of the key ingredients of treatment and is often overlooked. This initiative is called FACEMi-Families’ Alliance on Mental Illness. The goal is create inclusive families. An inclusive family is one that believes in the equality of all its members based on functional family norms, personal needs and rights.
As a social impact initiative, Action for Mental Illness(ACMI) launched FACEMi in 2013 for creating national forum for families. ACMI is listed on mental health innovation site as well here. FACEMi deals with the idea of promoting inclusive families by ensuring that no force divides care givers and PMIs against each other. It reinforces society’s responsibility to strengthen the family bonding of betterment of PMIs. FACEMi is a family advocacy group that uses advocacy as a tool to focus on various issues such as stigma/promoting awareness/gathering info on awareness. Such advocacy is pursued within framework of rights.
The group is consists of more than 300 families, so far, and growing. The key person behind is Dr Nirmala Srinivasan. She is a topic of another blog, but she has been involved as activist in disability related issues, and also is Ashoka Fellow.
FACEMi recently concluded national level event in Bengaluru which focused on few issues related to advocacy with Indian government on rights, lobbying for assisted home care, future care of PMI orphans. I could not attend it unfortunately, but my colleagues at SAA were able to attend it. The highlight of the event was the submission of a petition addressed to the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment through chief guest Mr Lov Verma, Secretary, Disabilities, Government of India. It is already under process and and he shall be forwarding to the Minister with his comments. FACEMi is also proposing to start an online signature campaign very soon. One more campaigns were launched during the event-National Mental Health Trust Fund. In the recent past FACEMi also pursued, the issue related to reducing delays in the court appointment of legal guardians under the current law that is MHA,1987 and also under the new Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2014 (RPDA Bill 2014) when it becomes a law.
FACEMi’s website has a unique section called Rarely Asked Questions(RAQ). This contains questions which occur in every care giver’s mind, frequently, but rarely asked. It is imperative that we support and spread about FACEMi and their activities, get more people and families involved, make world stronger and better place.