Mental Health Group (MHAT)
Mentalhealth research and advocacy suggest that bridging the gap in providing mental health-care, especially in low-income and developing countries, requires a greater role for society. In India, the shortage of mental health professionals and facilities has led to family members becoming caregivers for their loved ones suffering from mental illness. The burden of care and stigma attached to mental illness serves as a double setback for families already mired in poverty.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health includes "subjective well-being, perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, competence, inter-generational dependence, and self-actualization of one's intellectual and emotional potential, among others". The WHO further states that the well-being of an individual is encompassed in the realization of their abilities, coping with normal stresses of life, productive work, and contribution to their community. Cultural differences, subjective assessments, and competing professional theories all affect how one defines "mental health".
MHAT (https://mhatkerala.org/) is a registered charitable trust based at the Institue of Palliative Medicine in Kozhikode, Kerala. Aim of the trust is to provide free community-based mental health care to economically backward people. MHAT aims to demonstrate that comprehensive psychosocial care can be provided in resource-scarce settings by linking up with local partners in training volunteers and others in mental health care. This model is currently being tested in a series of projects in the northern districts of Kerala. In tune with its philosophy on palliative care, Pain and Palliative Care Society thought that it should support MHAT to spread its services in Thrissur district.
A support group was accordingly formed within the Pain and Palliative Care Society. It aims to provide long term management of chronic mental disorders through a system of community-owned and managed care. A set of volunteers from this group were trained by MHAT are doing the process of screening and registering the patients from lower economic strata of society had taken off. The support group has regular home visits in coordination with local health care workers. Experts from MHAT led by Dr. Manoj Kumar visits the Pain and Palliative Care Society once in a week to monitor and guide the working of the support group. The patients are followed up every Saturday at our Outpatient clinic.