16 August 2010
By Durgesh Nandan Jha
New Delhi, India
There is no social support. People think psychiatric patients are mad’. They do not understand the difference. The social psyche is such that families are forced to keep these patients behind closed doors,’’ says Kumar, who works with an advertizing firm in the capital. We have to keep our mother indoors to ensure neither the landlord nor our neighbours in the society get to know about her illness. We will be thrown out otherwise. We had to vacate our previous house in Malviya Nagar due to this reason,’’ adds Kumar.
The only government hospital for psychiatric patients in the city – Institute of Behavioural Health and Allied Sciences (IBHAS) is not wellequipped, says Kumar. In Delhi, no doctor is willing to attend to a patient at home. No matter how far the hospital is, one has to drag the patient so the doctor can start treatment. This is ridiculous since patients suffering from mental illnesses need family support, love and affection more than just medicines,’’ he adds.
A family member of another patient suffering from severe depression complained about the absence of activity centres or community–engagement platforms where people suffering from mental illnesses can get together and enjoy themselves. Moreover, the medicines administered to such patients have serious side–effects.
Director IBHAS, Dr Nimesh Desai, said, The number of patients coming to our hospital has doubled in the past five years. The infrastructure needs to be developed further and we are working on that.’’ He said the increase in the number of patients is due to changing lifestyle and stress.
Some of the common psychiatric illnesses Indians suffer from are depression, schizophrenia (a disorder characterized by abnormal perception or expression of reality), bipolar disorder (a mood–based psychiatric disorder involving alternating bouts of mania and depression), obsessive–compulsive disorder (characterized by intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviour) and panic disorders (characterized by attacks of panic, anxiety or phobia).
Names of family members and patients changed on request