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Non-Medical Staff In Various Organizations And Their Roles In The Mental Health Scenario In India

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Non-medical Staff in Various Organizations and their Roles in the

Mental Health Scenario in iNDIA

Most of the non-medical staff find themselves involved in the rehabilitation aspect of the mental health paradigm. They may be associated with the process of imparting knowledge and skill with regard to a particular activity or with the actual rehabilitation of the mentally challenged individuals - either by setting them up in halfway homes or protected communities or reintegrating them with their families. Some of the non-medical staff also finds its requirement in creating awareness about various ailments and disorders and what particular remedies are available. Also, they impart knowledge regarding where these remedies are available. Thus, they aid in the process of information dissemination hoping that more and more people will seek treatment before the onset of the problem in its most vicious form.

Following are some concrete examples of the work performed by the non-medical staff in various institutions around the country.

1. ANTARA:

The usefulness of the various non-medical staff in aiding the treatment of mentally challenged individuals in the context of ANTARA can be viewed as early as 1971. It was in the month of March in 1971 that a group of volunteers started relief work among refugees in continuation of their work in the Calcutta Slums from 1950. More recently in 2002, a special development program for the nearby villages under the name of Safe Mother and Child Survival Clinic, provides nutritional supplements, growth monitoring and health education to the mothers and children below 3 years of age of around 300 families at a time. This program is run with the support of Palli Unnayan Samiti, Baruipur, the social service wing of the Catholic Relief Services.

ANTARA has a well-developed work therapy unit. A team comprising doctors, social workers, ward in-charges and skilled workers of each work therapy unit selects, supervises and assesses each and every client. The work therapy units include poultry farm, horticultural nursery, incentive canteen, antara apiary, fishery, agriculture, tailoring, knitting and handicrafts, plastic welding unit, screen-printing unit, envelope unit and infotech vocational training unit. The rehabilitation committee and sub-committee meet periodically to evaluate the progress.

On Mental Health Day, 10th October, a series of workshops to promote community based mental health programs was held for those working in the field which included supervisors and Anganwadi workers of ICDS, Baruipur Block, health workers of Palli Unnayan Samiti.

The Missionaries of Charity, Palli Unnayan Samiti, GAP Program, UK, and Catholic Relief Services support ANTARA in its outpatient services. The Missionaries of Charity and other NGO's have also contributed by bringing in-patients for treatment.

2. Gwalior Mansik Arogyashala:

In the vicinity of the Mansik Arogyashala Campus is a Halfway Home. The Association for Social Health in India (ASHI) has stepped forward to lend a helping hand to patients not welcomed back into their families and to provide an environment of care and concern. ASHI is a social service organization committed to the cause of women and runs various activities like short stay home, working women hostel, a family counseling center and a halfway home.

The residents are taught to grow flowers and vegetables, run charkha, make candles, greeting cards, rakhis and also small drawings and paintings. Help and support is also provided by Action Aid India Coordinators. Maitri workers also engage themselves in activities with the individuals staying there and it is their belief that for an individual to sufficiently independent they need to be taught to work in a group.

3. ANJALI:

ANJALI is a rehabilitation program for the mentally challenged, which aims to create a user-friendly institution that would function as a democratic healing space. It works primarily with two institutions: sensitizing and motivating mental health professionals and other hospital staff about the need for rehabilitation and about the role they can play there and motivating families and communities to take back patients returned to a level of functionality and in helping them to learn coping skills for dealing with rehabilitated patients.

In the rehabilitation program therapeutic inputs provided include occupational therapy, creative therapy through songs, painting and drama, cognitive therapy, personal and group level counseling.

They have opened the doors of state institutions to a broad array of professionals - counselors, human rights activists, psychiatrists, therapists, community workers, and others - whose expertise has dramatically modernized treatment to an extent. These professionals will train medical and care-giving staff to move patients with different levels of mental illness into appropriate paths of treatment and introduce modern rehabilitation techniques, community psychiatry and mental health practices. They plan to use vocational social workers in attempts to contact the families of the mentally challenged individuals.

4. Deepshikha:

Deepshikha has started a program in its Special School under the name of Vistaar Project, in which, children as per their interests and ability are given a 1 hour exclusive comprehensive training in either music, yoga, art and craft or sports. Experts in each of these respective areas train these children. Volunteers, both national and international also help them.

In a new project entitled Rural Rehabilitation Program of Strengthening Parents of Developmentally Delayed Children, short term training programs for parents and caretakers have been conducted with the help of volunteers. Project workers make regular home visits for guiding parents. It has also conducted an awareness program on early intervention in mental retardation for officer's wives and jawans taking the help of specialists in the field, both medical and non-medical.

The non-medical staff includes the occupational therapist, speech therapist and audiologist,

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