Acute Need for Community Centres for Mentally

World Schizophrenia Day
Gurgaon, Schizophrenia is a type of severe mental illness which is majorly genetic in nature. It is a long term illness which affects thoughts, emotions and behavior leading to faulty perception and inappropriate actions and feelings. Persons with schizophrenia have difficulty in understanding  what is real and what is imaginary. They have hallucinations both auditory and visual and delusions.  Whereas 90% of the suicides in the country have mental illness as the main reason. These facts were highlighted at a press conference organised on mental health by Sambandh Health Foundation in DDR Residency Hotel, Gurgaon.  
Mental illness is a disease with very high economic costs, not to mention the quality of life of the persons affected and their immediate families and loved ones. According to WHO, 10% of the total population in India has some form of mental illness (MI) and 3% is severe MI which comprises of schizophrenia, bi-polar disease, OCD and deep depression.  This means that about 50,000 people in Gurgaon alone have severe MI. 50% of these cases go undetected and untreated.  
Just like diabetes is caused by a chemical change in the pancreas, mental illness is caused by a chemical change in the brain.  It is treatable.
It is estimated that 1.2% of the population i.e. 12 out of 1,000 people have schizophrenia and the age group 15 to 35 years are the most vulnerable. The disease cuts across all economic classes, age groups and genders.
The Nodal Officer of the District Mental Health Program, psychiatrist, Dr Brahmdeep Sindhu said, “mental health conditions exists in the community and it is a very serious matter. Society must get involved. Along with medical treatment, recovery programs are essential to bring people back to a normal life. The recovery programs build self confidence, community feeling and friendships. Recovery programs enable people with MI to build life and social skills and come out of fear and darkness. With the right support people can get back to their jobs, lead independent and even family lives and contribute to society. 
He said that the Community Integration Centre operated by Sambandh Health Foundation with help of Haryana Government in the Polyclinic, Sector 31 of Gurgaon is a successful initiative being run under the guidance of international expert, Nancy Beck, based on latest research.
Sambandh Health Foundation is a charitable started in the year 2011 by family members of people living with mental illness who have themselves experienced the catastrophic effects of the illness on the person and the family.  The person is supported through a number of recovery programs. Families are supported through self-help groups and individual counseling. Awareness is created through talks and street plays in Gurgaon and nearby villages.
Dr Brahmdeep Sindhu said, “People with mental illness respond well to medication. Many patients and families are unable to comprehend the illness and how to deal with it. If diagnosis is done early and medicines given timely then all those with mental illness can benefit.
Sambandh Health Foundation’s Trustee, Rita Seth said, “Community based services are needed for recovery from mental illness and they can get people back into a normal life. Centres such as ours can create awareness so that the myths associated with mental illness are banished and people effected people have the opportunity to live a life of dignity in the community.
She said that people with mental illness are known to their work with diligence and dedication. They are regular and hence good employees. She said that open discussions about mental health help erase the stigma and shame associated with mental illness. People living with MI say that lack of social acceptance is the biggest obstacle in their progress. People who do not understand MI are fearful of those suffering from MI. Normally people’s knowledge of MI is based on mass media and the perception often is that people with MI are odd, dangerous, violent and dumb. This has been found to be incorrect and this perception needs to be changed in our society.
Sambandh has done a commendable job of supporting people with MI to come out of the impact of the illness in Gurgaon. Some of these are even in jobs and some have normalized their family lives. Some of these shared their experiences.
Smt Lata Manocha, said about her daughter, “we were heartbroken with the diagnosis of schizophrenia in our daughter. Medication stabilized her condition but 20 long years of being at home, created a sense of hopelessness in her and us. Joining Sambandh, has made us hopeful. We have observed tremendous change in her. It has given us respite from the 24/7 care giving task and our relationship has greatly improved. Attending Family self help group has given us emotional support.”

Natasha (name changed) said, “my world was dark and desolate. Nine youthful years of my life were wasted in near isolation at home. Self talk and crying every morning was ruining the family atmosphere. Association with Sambandh helped me rebuilt my physical and mental stamina. They found me a job in the area of my interest and supported me to cope with it. Today I am self reliant and look forward to a bright future.”
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