Hope for women recovering from mental illness

Women recovering from mental illness now have help at hand. The Tata Institute of Social Sciences has started a field action project as a community-based rehabilitation model in four stages,which includes de-institutionalisation,vocational training,job development and job support.

Written by Mihika Basu | Published: May 13, 2012 12:14 am

Women recovering from mental illness now have help at hand. The Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) has started a field action project as a community-based rehabilitation model in four stages,which includes de-institutionalisation,vocational training,job development and job support.

“As per the 2011 Census there are 1.21 billion people in the country and it is estimated that six to seven per cent of the population suffer from mental disorders. In absolute numbers,around 80 million Indians live with mental disorders. Global incidence rates indicate that only one to two per cent of the population is affected by severe mental disorders; the majority have common mental disorders like depression and anxiety. Women with mental health problems face neglect and abandonment even after recovering fully from the illness,” said TISS director S Parasuraman.

He said while employment is known to promote mental health by ‘facilitating an individual’s identity,providing economic remuneration and enhancing social status’,employment rates for persons living with mental illness are below 10 per cent.

“Accordingly,the project titled ‘Tarasha’ seeks to facilitate the process of recovery for these women from mental illness make the transition from institutions back into the community. It looks at integration of excluded women in the society. The cornerstones of the project are shelter,livelihood and psycho-social issues,” said Parasuraman.

The key participants in this project are the Directorate of Health Services,Thane Mental Hospital (TMH) from where women identified for participation in the project are sought to be discharged,Manav Foundation (a mental health day care centre) and Nagpada Neighbourhood House,which is a working women’s hostel where women live after they are discharged from TMH and vocational training institutes.

After working with 25 women from the Thane Mental Hospital,four were selected to participate in Tarasha. Since April 2012,three of the four women have started attending a vocational training centre close to the Nagpada House.

“The four appeared before the visitor’s committee of the hospital and were subsequently discharged earlier this year. After successful completion of their vocational training,the women will be prepared for employment and independent living. We have kept the numbers small purposefully in the initial phase. As the project stabilises and legitimate spaces are created in the community for women recovering from mental illness,the intake will increase,” said a TISS official.

Even after they get a job,TISS will continue to support the women so that they can maintain the job,besides addressing issues related to discrimination and stigma at the workplace.

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