Skilling mentally challenged to master their life

  • P Srinivasan, Hindustan Times, Jaipur
  • Updated: Jul 30, 2016 20:55 IST
Patients at a rehabilitation centre of government psychiatric centre in Jaipur are taught to make rakhis and bracelets. (Prabhakar Sharma/ HT Photo)

Akbar is competing with Rameshwar to pack rakhis faster than the latter. His friend Ramesh is fully absorbed in stringing beads, while Sartaj is busy with candle-making….

This a scene from a rehabilitation centre of a government psychiatric centre in Jaipur. Believe it or not, the inmates’ efficiency is both wonderful and surprising to a normal person. But, the credit goes to the trainers who are so painstakingly imparting simple skills to the mental patients who can’t be managed easily at home without continuous medicines.

Male patients make rakhis, bracelets and the likes while female ones are taught colouring and drawing. Ritu, a patient likes making peacocks, as they are colourful. Sarita loves to make necklaces with colourful beads.

Rehabilitation centre in-charge Lalit Batra says long-stay patients (who can be managed at home with continuous medicines, but are not being taken away by their family members are staying at the psychiatric centre) are taught such things.

“They have to be kept creatively busy. Otherwise, they might slip into their earlier mental state (which could be risky) while staying with other mental illness patients,” he explains. By learning these things, they can do something constructive and earn their living too, Batra adds. Their training schedules are kept very simple in order not to overburden them with learning stress. They get such training only four days in a month, Batra says, adding Ashok Jain, a businessman from Bhiwadi who runs an NGO Vardhaman Parivar Seva Trust, comes here once a month with his staff and spends a day with these patients. They teach them necklace making, candle making, painting, plaster of Paris idol making.

Jain says, “I run a day boarding school at Bhiwadi for the mentally challenged and Divyang children free of charge. I come here every month and spend my day with these patients.”

Psychiatric centre doctor Suresh Gupta says, “The rehabilitation centre has been here for the last 8-10 years, but had remained non-functional due to lack of manpower. With Jain’s initiative, the centre has started working.”

There are posts for psychiatric social workers, psychiatric nurses, occupational therapists, clinical psychologists and carpenters. But, they are lying vacant for the last many years, which is affecting the work at the centre.

Batra says the role of a psychiatric social worker is crucial in the rehabilitation process as he is the one who goes along with patients hands them over to their family. A psychiatric nurse remains with the patient too look after him while he learns creative skills. The role of an occupational therapist is to find the inclination of fit-to-be discharged patients about their likings and teach them work of their expertise. Likewise, a clinical psychologist issues medical certificates to the mentally ill after necessary tests. The carpenter trains teaches these patients into furniture and wood artefacts making while a tailor too imparts his skills to them to enable them earn their living after they are discharged from the rehabilitation centre. However, the post of a tailor has been abolished.

Psychiatric centre deputy superintendent Ravi Prakash Mathur says, “The government is being requested regularly fill these posts. We hope the government will take a necessary action in this regard soon.”

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