Over 100 caregivers meet to share stories and dispel myths
In a first–of–its–kind initiative, the Schizophrenia Awareness Association (SAA) arranged a meeting for caregivers of patients suffering from mental illness. The meeting, which took place, at the Association’s office in Sinhagad saw 110 people attend. Various experts spoke at the meet, such as Dr Soumitra Pathare from the Centre for Mental Health Law and Policy, who spoke on the Mental Health Care Bill, Dr Ajay Chavan, superintendent of the Ahmedabad Mental Hospital and various others.
"These caregivers have an extremely challenging job and rarely have an outlet through which they can vent. If they meet others with the same issues, they can accept the situation better," said Neelima Bapat, vice–president, SAA.
Bapat added that family support is important for mentally–ill patients and mere institutionalisation is not the answer. Pune district has approximately 15,0870 people suffering from mental illnesses. "People often feel that such patients must be institutionalised, but they should ideally be cared for at home and institutionalised only if the case is really serious. Once the person is diagnosed with schizophrenia, there are a lot of blame games and misconceptions. These things can be sorted out with the help of such meetings," she said.
Ratna Chibber, a caregiver who was attending the meet has been tending to her brother for the past 23 years. She is also an entrepreneur in Chennai and provides employment to patients with mental illness. "There is a 5 per cent reservation for the disabled given by the government. However, no one gives mentally–ill people work. There is also a misconception that such patients are violent, a view endorsed by the media," Chibber said.
D S Deshpande, a 91–year–old exemployee of the Pune Race Course whose daughter and wife both suffer from schizophrenia, said, "I had almost decided to divorce her for her erratic behaviour. Unfortunately, in my daughter’s case, her in–laws and husband abandoned her."
"Having been a caregiver myself for the past 21 years, I am aware of its hardships. My daughter is stable now and I wanted to help other caregivers. Even though we have similar talks every month, this is the first time it was done on such a large scale," said Amrit Bakshy, president, SAA.Source
Times of India
19 Dec 2013,
by - Mayuri Phadnis