Mental health in India is a significant concern that continues to be ignored, even though the percentage of the people suffering from mental health issues across the country has seen a sharp rise over the last few years.
To make things worse, there is a substantial inadequacy in facilities when it comes to awareness, infrastructure and human resources—important tools that are needed to deal with mental illness effectively.
According to research pursued by the Kerala State Mental Health Authority and the National Health Mission, about 11.36 percent of the state’s residents were discovered to be suffering from various mental illnesses including depression, schizophrenia, and along with tobacco and alcohol-induced disorders.
Within these numbers, about 1 percent of the state’s entire population was found to be affected by incurable schizophrenia that can only be contained through lifelong medication.
On June 8, one man from the Veliyam town in Kollam district donated his property which is worth about ₹3 crore and spread across a plot of land measuring 0.84-acres, to the state government so that the four-bedroom house can be utilised as a care and rehabilitation home for mentally ill women patients.
77-year-old N Kamalasanan is a retired academician, whose daughter, Priya has been grappling with schizophrenia since she was 13. Having spent their entire lives caring for their only daughter, the ageing parents were distressed with the thought of Priya, who is now 38, being left alone following their demise with nobody to care for her.
“At a time when even small children are victims of horrific crimes, how can I leave my only daughter alone once I am gone?” asked N Kamalasanan to The New Indian Express.
Understanding that this must be the case for many families across the state, Kamalasanan decided to donate his ancestral home for a cause he himself has been part of and wrote to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in 2016, with a proposal to use his property as a mental care institution at no extra cost.
Despite building the house in 1995, Kamalasanan and his family have hardly ever lived there, and this is why he thought that instead of lying unused, the house could serve a better purpose by being a care home.
“The thing about people with mental illnesses like schizophrenia is that they cannot carry on with daily life normally unless they take appropriate medicines every day. These medicines make them feel better until the next dosage; so it is a cyclic process. At least we do not have financial problems. But in case of several families, people do not have the means to access or afford care homes, because of which mentally ill patients become destitutes,” Kamalasanan added.
As reported by TNIE, the father had only placed three conditions—that the institution be named after his daughter, the home would provide housing facilities for his daughter after a specified date, and a committee consisting of the local Panchayat president, ward member and representative chosen by him would be a part of the administrative council.
As for the staffers required to run the new institution, there is a requirement of at least one nurse, one nursing assistant and a doctor on call, and they will be deployed by the state government.
It was only earlier this year that the state Department of Social Justice looked into Kamalasanan’s request and swiftly completed the formalities required for the handing over of the property, which was convened officially on last Friday.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)