Chandigarh residents have asked the UT Administration to set up group homes for those battling mental illness, under the Mental Healthcare Act.
A US citizen has written to UT Adviser Manoj Parida stating that her Chandigarh-based younger sister, who has a mental illness, resides with her parents who are now growing old and suffer from various ailments.
“A local psychiatrist has been treating her for the past several years. She is stable and can function normally in society with some help from the community and parents. My sister is a wonderful person with a kind heart. My parents are now 79 and 76 years old. Both are cancer survivors. My father has an advanced form of cancer and is currently on heavy medication. My mother also has several old age-related issues. They constantly worry about my sister who will be her caretaker after they are gone. They are both immuno-compromised and housebound because of the current environment of Covid-19 and hardly go anywhere except to see doctors,” the Boston resident wrote.
Her letter further said, “We constantly worry about our sister if anything were to happen to our parents. I strongly feel the UT Administration should understand the situation of families like us. I grew up in Chandigarh. The city gave me everything from great education to good quality living. It is very sad and unfortunate that Chandigarh with all its resources has not been able to come up with a solution to this problem. Persons with mental illness need the support of the government and community so they can lead a productive life.”
She went on to say, “Group home is quite similar to an old-age home, except that the residents come in at a younger age and there is an additional requirement of full/ part-time psychiatric social workers and counselors. The social welfare department of UT Administration is already running two old-age homes in Chandigarh. Therefore they could easily start a few group homes for persons with mental illness. We do not need any financial subsidy from the UT Administration. We would be happy to pay the full monthly living and treatment expenses. What we do need is a physical setup conducive to good quality living within the city.”
The Mental Healthcare Act 2017 states that “community-based solutions in the vicinity of the person’s usual place of residence are preferred” [Statement of Objects and Reasons, 2 (b) (ii)]. Thus, bona fide residents of UT Chandigarh have a right to be rehabilitated close to their usual place of residence.
Another city-based scientist also wrote to the Chandigarh Adviser about the same issue. He said he has a brother who is over 50 years of age, unmarried with no income at the time, and is suffering from a debilitating mental illness for the last few years.
“During the course of his treatment for his mental illness at Government Medical College & Hospital, Sector 32, Chandigarh, he was declared as a disabled person having Moderate Disability due to mental Illness to the extent of 40-70% by the director (Health & Family Welfare), Chandigarh Administration. As his primary and sole caregiver (our parents passed away a few years ago), it is a matter of grave concern to me and my family members as to what would happen to my brother in my absence. Currently, he has no earnings or income to support himself. I am providing full financial assistance for his treatment and living expenses,” he said requesting the administration to come up with a group home.
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