MENTAL HEALTH PROGRAMME

SATRA has been working to improve the lives of people living in rural areas by transforming needed social and economic changes. Based on our experience of working in the rural areas we identified mental health issues to work on earliest possible, which is otherwise far from reach of the rural people. These people always depend on Govt. aided treatment for any kind of illness and Govt. policy on mental health is really pathetic. Treatment of it often ends up in the hands of the people who practices superstitious methods to ward off evil. Beside very poor infrastructure regards to mental health in India, the ratios of psychiatrist to the population is one is to four lakhs, which alone is enough to describe the scenario of mental healthcare in the country. Another dreaded combination we noticed in the rural areasis that mental illness and poverty are two sides of the same coin.

Ashadeep, a Guwahati based mental health society on CMHP, associated with SATRA in June 2013 to work on community based mental health programme in 12 Gram Panchayat, covering 44 villages of Sipajhar development block. Altogether 11 persons were selected to execute this project and they were given training by Ashadeep on patient’s identification, care taker motivation, mass awareness and to deal with stigma and superstitions attached with the mental illness. Soon after training, Patients identification drive was started, huge numbers of patients were identified and were given free treatment and medicines in our psychiatric review camp held on fortnightly basis attended by Physician specialist in psychiatry. Till now around 600 patients avail free treatment and medicines provided by us. Because of non-availability of psychiatrist at local level or even at district level many patients remain without diagnosed. Therefore we organize special training for the local Doctors of PHC and CHC so that they be able to diagnose and prescribed medicines to begin with. Nearest care taker of the patients (usually family member) has the most difficult and responsible job to do in order to maintain proper line of treatment.

Medication refusal is a common symptoms of psychiatric patients and it’s often challenge for the nearest care taker to administer daily dose of medicine. He or she has to tolerate all social non sense and often has to manage financial need of the family. So we formed support group involving family members of the patients and organized motivational programme and training for them. As ASHA, ANM and MPW are the grass root level health workers, to bridge the gap between MI patients and healthcare institute we trained them as well.

Awareness on mental illness is as low as negligible so we organize awareness campaign in every villages of our project area but there is still lot to do on this front. Beside social stigma and superstitious believe, Right to equality to all, granted by the constitution of India to all its citizen is being violated constantly with every MI patients because Right to equality is to prohibit discrimination, mental illness patients are often discriminated by neighbor and relatives on the grounds of disability (mental illness). So more energetic, vibrant and innovative awareness drive, so as to reach everybody is the need of the hour.

Based on experience of this project we develop another CMHP covering more areas, focusing on prevention, early detection and treatment. To prevent and early detection we call for special class room programme and counseling season for the parents having children between 3 to 10 years. They will be taught of correct process of upbringing and to recognize if the child is undergoing any psychological and learning difficulties. Next group is adolescent (11 to 18years). This is the soft target group of mental illness so they have to be dealwith sensibly and with outmost care. They will be taught of physical, emotional, behavioral and social changes happen in this period of life. To manage school based programs a team of teachers, parents, our volunteers and counselor shall be formed and a social approach towards the children with difficulty will be adopted. To ensure that no MI patients remain unattended we will identify those persons who practices superstitious method of treatment, and convince them to inform us about such patients. As the Govt. of India launched its first mental health policy on 10th October 2014 linkage with the Government policy shall be our area of priority. “To promote a separate mental health society by SATRA” is an important resolution adopted in the last board meeting held on 26th October2014.