“There is a need for a dedicated court to take up cases related to mental health”, said Justice Amol Rattan Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court while speaking at the first national conference on rehabilitation of persons with mental illness which took off at Government Medical College Chandigarh (GMCH), Sector 32 here.
Department of Psychiatry, Government Medical College Chandigarh (GMCH) along with Parivartan – a mental health movement are organizing the conference. The theme of the conference is ‘Support for caregivers and persons with mental illness: Innovative approaches.
“I am a layman myself when it comes to mental health issues and would like to share my perspective on the subject, and I have seen a lot of change in the perception with changing times. In olden times a person suffering from mental issues was never treated, but now with the efforts of doctors and NGOs the awareness levels are high and so is the treatment”, he said.
Justice Singh said there was always a stigma attached with such people but now things have changed. He cited an example of someone known to him who was suffering with mental issues but now with proper care of doctors is now leading a normal life.
“It is a matter of pride, learned doctors and NGOs are contributing a lot. As far as legal issues concerned with mental health is concerned, the legal services authorities of different states are there, and doctors and NGOs facing any legal issues should not hesitate to approach the concerned legal services authorities”, he said.
He stressed on the need to have a quicker redressal mechanism on such issues and said he would personally take up the issue of having a specific court designated to deal with mental health issues and thanked the medical fraternity for playing an important role in the matter.
The organizing chairman Prof BS Chavan, HOD, Department of Psychiatry cum Additional Director, Mental Health Institute while speaking on the occasion informed since the maximum burden of mental illness is on the families who have to provide 24X7 care and suffer the most, the focus of deliberations were on innovative efforts to improve the mental health of caregivers as well as the patients.
Prof. A.K. Janmeja, Director Principal, GMCH, while speaking on the occasion said, we can all make a difference and NGOs here play a vital role and can work with the government by supporting its initiatives in bringing about a change and treating people with mental issues.
The conference is being attended by 250-300 mental health professionals from different parts of the country. The first day of the conference included lectures and presentations by renowned national and international faculties who have extensively worked in the field of rehabilitation.
Among other eminent mental health professionals present were, Prof. RS Murthy, Dr. R Thara, Prof. Rajiv Gupta, Prof. NG Desai, Prof. Adarsh Kohli, Prof. AK Janmeja (Director Principal, GMCH-32, Chandigarh), Prof. BS Chavan (Professor and Head Department of Psychiatry cum Additional Director Mental Health Institute and Organizing Chairperson of the Conference), Prof. Ravi Gupta (Medical Superintendent, GMCH-32) amongst many others.
Professionals awarded for work in mental health
The highlight of the conference were the award sessions , 5 awards like the Sh Tulsi Ram Award for Best Community work in the field of Mental Health by non-professionals, Dr. Suraj Bhan award for the best innovative practice in the field of mental health, Pushpanjali trust award for the best original research work in the field of rehabilitation, Indira Mehndi Ratta award for the best research in mental health by students, Sardar Ram Bahadur Singh award for best use of Technology for promoting mental health and Best the best NGO Award.
Experts discuss mental health issues
The day one, started with different invited lectures and presentations by renowned international and national faculties who have extensively worked in the field of rehabilitation with sessions, symposia, debates, workshops, free and award papers, posters. There were invited guest lectures by Dr. C Ramasubramanian on appropriate resource utilization in setting up of rehab services, Ms. Ujala Joshi on Perceived and felt stigma: Personal Perspective and the session was chaired by Dr. R Thara, Dr. Rajiv Gupta, Mr. Vivek Trivedi.
Symposium presented by Prof. R Srinivasmurthy on Maintaining personal health of the care givers of persons with mental illness. He stressed upon the importance of simple things like exercise, adequate sleep, and meditation and among other recreational activities for improving the emotional health among the caregivers of persons with mental health.
In the second half homelessness and mental health: Lessons from the Banyan’s experience by Ms. Laxmi Narasimhan was presented. She advocated for the practice of De-institutionalization wherein group of persons with mental illness can live together with limited assistance.
Protection of rights of family bound for persons with mental illness: New hope from MHCA, 2017 by Dr. Shahzada Khurram pointed out the various deficits of the Mental Health Care bill and chaired by Prof. RS Murthy, Dr. Sandhya Ghai and Dr. Ajeet Sidana.
The panel discussion on Rehabilitation of Homeless mentally ill chaired by Prof. NG Desai, Mr. Amrit Bakhshy and Dr. BK Waraich, and the presenters were Mr. Shamsher Singh, Prof. BS Chavan, Justice BK Mehta and Dr. Monica M Singh.
Symposium on care giver support group: sharing of experiences by Prof. BS Chavan, Ms. Shikha Tyagi, Mrs GP Lamba, Mr OP Asija and Mrs Renu Bains was presented in the hall B. there was panel discussion on Child Protection by Dr. Ruchita Shah, Mr Mahavir Singh, Ms Sangita Vardhan and others.
At the end, there was workshop on care-givers issues on handling of stress by the care-givers, communication with persons with mental illness by caregivers, handling queries of persons with mental illness and care givers by the mental health professionals, What after us? By different mental health professionals and caregivers and the session was chaired by Dr. Ab Maajid, Dr. Karobi Das, Dr. Hardeep Singh and Dr. Paramleen Kaur.