I have talked on the topic of persons with mental illnesses, and issues related to various aspects of mental health on my blog here. I also volunteer and support Pune based Schizophrenia Awareness Association(SAA) and have been associated with Bengaluru based FACEMi. One of the daunting issues in mental health in the society is supporting persons with mental illness(PMI) during their battle with life, and rehabilitation. The rehabilitation is most of the times a life long process, especially, when a person is suffering from major mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, mania or depression. Providing care and support during this process is absolutely essential. Giving care to PMIs by his/her relatives is something we certainly see happening, but there are challenges in that also, which is another topic for a blog.
The issue I want to talk today here is about related to concern or worry of care givers about care giving their wards after their death. Unless the next set of care givers arise, it is very much possible the PMIs are left stranded with no one to look after them. We often see PMIs left alone on the streets, homeless, with no one to look after them. Of course, many of them are suffering from other illnesses such Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease(Recent Marathi movie Astu अस्तु, starred by Dr Mohan Agashe handled this subject).
There are good samaritans in the society like, one doctor couple in Ahmednagar near Pune doing work in this area, by taking care of such stranded PMIs. The name of the organization is Mauli Seva Pratishthan, and is started by Dr Mr and Mrs Dhamane. You may check their website here. But such facilities are going to have their own limitations due to funds and cannot scale all over the country. Even at SAA, during our meetings, we have heard shubhankars(शुभंकर, care givers) raising this concern and the need, many times. SAA is trying to address the issue to its capacity and for the members of the organization. That is also going to have limitations though as said earlier.
So what is the ask here? The government should do something about it. And it is high time for it. FACEMi has been on the forefront in terms of advocating this topic. Is this trending a life sentence or a death sentence? And how long will it take for the government to act? This is the question families and patients numbering almost 80 million in India, suffering from severe and common mental disorders are asking. The government has access to resources and funds to undertake such activity.
The central government Ministry of Health has a network of more than 40 regional mental hospitals, and many more autonomous institutions. The mental hospitals or general hospitals sponsored and supported by state government and municipal corporations having psychiatric department, are also available. I know, the plight of these government mental hospitals is in itself a big topic to discuss and needs to huge improvement. This has been raised on various forums and we keep reading about them in the newspapers.
Anyways, FACEMi has filed petition to seek support from general public on the cause of life care for PMIs, especially, after death of their primary care givers, and lack of willingness or secondary care givers or lack of them. FACEMi wants your support on this petition. I have signed it. I appeal my readers to review and sign it here. This petition is to make the government take immediate action for providing life care for persons with mental illness and set up a NATIONAL MENTAL DISABILITY LIFE CARE TRUST under the Prime Ministers Office(PMO) so that the buck is not passed on from one ministry (Health) to the other (Disability/Social Justice Ministry) as it is happening at present. There are right now two ways of admitting to these mental hospitals is. One if voluntary, and the other by relatives, with support from court. This process may require changes to allow government authority to identify and admit them, may be with help of court, and treat them. Of course, social organizations working in this area can certainly lend a hand here, but then that also needs to be accommodated in the procedure. These mental hospitals also needs to be enhanced to have special sections such as day care for such PMIs where they are looked after, and helped in the process of rehabilitation.
The organizations such as Change.org are excellent examples of technology can make it easy to bring changes to society by garnering support of the population for the noble and right causes. Hope this creates change here. Please sign this petition and help to bring this much required change to support persons with mental illness.