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Posted at: Mar 21, 2017, 12:45 AM; last updated: Mar 21, 2017, 12:45 AM (IST)

Shimla hospital comes to aid of mentally ill patients

About the centre

  • Yet to start 50-bed rehab centre houses 39 patients
  • As many as 17 patients admitted at the centre are destitutes
  • Patients are given treatment and health care for 90 days as mandated under the MentalHealth Act. Certificate that give them Rs 700 per month pension also given
  • The centre requires occupational therapists, ward boys and other supportinginfrastructure
Shimla hospital comes to aid of mentally ill patients
A patient at the Himachal Hospital of Mental Health and Rehabilitation in Shimla. Photo: Amit Kanwar

Tribune News Service

Shimla, March 20

The Himachal Hospital of Mental Health and Rehabilitation here has come as a new home for 39 mental health patients, 17 of whom are destitute. They have been deserted by their family members due to social stigma attached to the disease.

Though the rehabilitation centre of this hospital has yet to start because it needs occupational therapists, ward boys and other supporting infrastructure, this 50-bed hospital has emerged as a home to 39 patients admitted here.

Six patients — Arjun, Muna, Tanya, Madhu, Ram Lal and Golu — have been living in the hospital for the last over seven years, with trace of their family members, as per doctors.

Some of them were brought here by the police, while others were deserted by the parents or family members, said Dr Sanjeev Pathak, senior medical superintendent of the hospital. They created no mess, no problem and behaved reasonably well here after treatment, he observed.

When The Tribune team visited the hospital today, the nursing staff of over 12 was treating four mental health patients to the tunes of music in the hospital. “This is part of our efforts to engage the inmates to respond to music or songs,” said nurses.

Another worrisome factor among mental health patients was that more than 50 per cent of them relapsed into mental illness after they were discharged from the hospital, observed Dr Ravi Sharma, a senior psychiatrist at the hospital.

“They become normal after getting five to 10-day treatment, but relapse due to the fact that family members cause stress to them. This is seen most among drug addicts or alcoholics,” he said.

These patients, most of whom are drug addicts, came from rural background. It was observed that they took to habit due to peer pressure and due to discord among parents, who deserted each other, observed Dr Pathak.

The hospital gave them treatment and health care for 90 days as mandated under the Mental Health Act, said Dr Pathak. “We are giving certificate that gives them Rs 700 per month pension. But family members are not keen to take them back due to social stigma attached to mental sickness,” he said.

Dr Pathak said they needed occupational therapists and ward boys, residential facility for the staff to start the rehabilitation centre here. “We also need community and family support to remove all myths and stigma about mental health patients,” he said.

Dr Pathak said they got about 10 patients at the OPD daily. The mental health problem was increasing as there were an estimated 70,000 mental health patients in the state, he added.

“If mental health patients are brought here for treatment at an early stage, they can live a normal life, but we get them after it is too late,” said Dr Ravi.

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