Please Stay Mad, We Can'tafford You
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24 July 2010
By Vishakha Sharma
Fully recovered patients of Yerwada Mental Hospital are increasingly turning to suicide. They want to leave hospital, but their families don’t want them back
When Bhaskar Dattare Mandke was a young man, geography was his universe. The Nashik resident travelled to Pune, and went on to complete his PhD in the subject from University of Pune. Today, he is a ‘permanent’ resident of Yerwada MentalHospital, with nowhere to go and no wish to step out into the big, bad world.
While Mandke has reconciled himself to living out his life in the hospital, a chilling reality is evidencing itself. Over the past year or so, four fully recovered patients have turned to suicide, the latest case having occured early this month.
Mirror had reported on March 24, 2010 that out of 1,844 patients, there are many who have recovered from their mental illness to a great extent and are manageable since years, but are still in hospital because either their families have refused to take them back, or they have no family at all and fear to face society on their own.
Dr M K Yadav, medical superintendent, Yerwada Mental Hospital told Pune Mirror, “We have many patients in the hospital who are mentally stable now and can return to their families. They can work for a living. Unfortunately, they are still admitted with us. In some of the cases, the families are scared to take them back, while in others, families are unwilling as they cannot afford to support them.”
Being mentally affected can be a downer in itself, and rejection by family after recovery adds to it. Yadav cites a recent instance, when a patient’s family was asked to take him home. “When the family hesitated, the patient– who is manageable now– threatened to harm himself. This is a very sad situation. When recovered patients are denied their homes, they naturally get frustrated, and often turn suicidal. The family should understand this, but they don’t.”
Not all patients stay back after recovering because they have nowhere to go. Some have developed Institutional Dependency Syndrome due to living in the hospital for years, and depend on the institute to take care of them. “In such cases, they are not willing to work. They don’t have any work to do here and get free food. They enjoy this freedom here which they won’t have outside. So, even after recovering, they don’t want to leave,” explains Yadav.
The hospital has seen several suicides in the past year. In 2009, there were three suicide cases. According to Yadav, the reasons were all the same– rejection by family. “In 2010, till now there has been only one such suicide, but the situation is very bad.” The hospital’s problems don’t end here. Many people who find it difficult to support themselves, let alone dependents, try to overcome their problem by admitting family members to the mental hospital. The idea behind this is that if someone from their family gets admitted, there would be one mouth less to feed. The person admitted too gets three meals per day, on time. Yadav, however, denies such instances. "We don’t admit such cases at all. Proper tests are conducted before admitting patients. We get patients from 12 districts. There are many poor people. But how can we admit people who don’t require any treatment?"
NOWHERE TO GO
Bhaskar Dattare Mandke, PhD
Pune Mirrorspoke to two patients who are cured now,but continue to stay in the hospital.One such patient is Mandke,originally from Nashik.He said,“I was admitted to the hospital by the police way back in 1989,when I had turned suicidal.I wanted to end my life as I had no money.I would get irritated by people around me,and sometimes even hit me.I have no family too.My mother died in 1960 and father in 1967 and I am the only child. After recovering,I wanted to work and earn my living,as I completed completed my PhD in geography from Pune University, but I always feared stepping out of the hospital as I don’t have any family.Also,I was afraid that society would not accept me as ‘normal’.If the government had done something for me,I would have never stayed here.But now I am too old to even work and have no home.Where will I go and who will give me a job? It’s better I live and work for other patients here.I like helping the doctors and have made a lot of friends with patients who are cured,like me.I plan to die here.”
BROTHER-IN-LAW’S INTENTIONS 'SUSPECT'
With no other option, Rachna Kumbhare (27) who has recovered from her mental illness,is still in the hospital.Her married sister is not willing to take her backas Rachna is young,and she doesn’t trust her husband’s intentions. Says Rachna,“I was admitted as I had turned crazyand used to talkto myself all the time.This was because of myfather’s illness whose bodywas completelyparalyzed. Myfather died while I was undergoing treatment here.I have never seen mymother because myparents separated after mybirth. I have onlyone elder sister,who is married and lives in the city.She and her husband visited me here onlytwice,and then stopped coming.After I recovered,she refused to give me a home as she doubted her husband’s intentions towards me.” “I have my own house in Nigdi,but I can’t live alone.I don’t even believe in marriage anymore as I have been divorced twice, once when I was 18 years old and second time when I was 23 years old.I wish my sister would take me home.I don’t want to stay here.I would like to work and earn my living.”
When the family hesitated, the patient– who has become manageable now– threatened to harm himself if he was forced to stay on in hospital. This is a very sad situation. ‘n patients who have recovered are denied their homes, they naturally get irritated and frustrated, and often, turn suicidal. The family should understand this, but they don’t.”– Dr M K Yadav, medical superintendent, Yerwada Mental Hospital