Kozhikode, Dec 17 : Breaking conventional scheme of things, a Calicut-based Not-for-Profit organization has been making inroads in providing inclusive treatment for the mentally challenged.
Aimed at cracking the social stigma towards people with mental disorders besides rehabilitating them, meritoriously, the Mental Health Action Trust (MHAT) has been serving the community for over a decade. Providing free and comprehensive community-based and volunteer-driven mental healthcare, MHAT has been reaching out to the ones who needed assistance and care to overcome aberrations in their mental health.
“After 15 years of working in the UK, I felt it was time to try and make a difference on a larger scale, to the most deserving sections of the society who had the least access to mental health services, back home. The success of the community palliative care model in Kerala emboldened me to follow in their footsteps in mental healthcare also”, Dr Manoj Kumar, Locum Consultant in Psychiatry, St John's Hospital at Howden, Livingston, UK, elaborated on his idea in initiating and forming the trust for assisting the poor people suffering from mental disorders.
MHAT, founded on the larger principle of community mental health involving local partners and the society, have 54 centres spread in seven districts. “We train the palliative volunteers, who form about 70 percent of our 500-odd volunteer base, as well as others to become trained Mental Health Volunteers (MHV) The MHVs interact with and cater to all the needs of our clients. The local centres and MHVs take care of the medicines and infrastructure, for the free-of-cost treatment, counselling and the alike of the clients”, said Dr Parvez, a UK-returned Psychiatrist, assisting Dr Manoj in making the vision of MHAT translate and expand to new horizons.
The rehabilitation of the mentally disordered ones is the most important challenge in the scheme of things of MHAT. The process of rehabilitation is different from client to client. “We try to bring the clients back to their normal life by constantly meeting and chatting with them and thereby understand their problems and suggest measures for them to come out of their shells. We also counsel the family members who in some case treat the clients as hostiles and keep them away from family affairs. The rehabilitation programmes are part and parcel of the treatment”, narrated Sainudheen, an MHW attached to Ponnani area.
“We take over these clients after a preliminary consultation by our Doctor”, said Surayya, a lady MHW. “Most of us reach out to both cancer patients and mentally disordered ones. But there is glaring difference in the approach to the two. While both the family and society extend sympathy to a cancer patient but treat a mental patient as mad or a joker or alike. The attitude of the people has not yet changed from a conventional approach of treating persons with mental disorder as uncurable, even after they get rehabilitated”, she added.
The infra and human support extended by the Palliative Care Units across these seven districts have been helping the MHAT implement is Community Psychiatry in a big way. “As many a person think out-of-the-box and venture out into a different kind of a work, possibly impacting the society, in some stage in their life, I too did by structuring the trust, in my endeavour to look for fulfilment of abstract things than material things”, Dr Manoj said, adding that his dream was to spread the wings of the Trust’s activities to more places. (UNI)