Psychiatrist goes above and beyond to reunite schizophrenic man with family
Unable to proceed with treatment without the consent of the patient or his family, the hospital informed the local police station.
Mumbai: In a heartwarming display of humanity, a Thane-based psychiatrist went beyond the call of duty to help a lost and distressed 28-year-old man. She not only ensured a safe shelter but also diagnosed and treated him for schizophrenia, before finally reuniting him with his Haryana-based family.
On May 2, Dr Anjali Deshpande spotted the man scavenging for food in a garbage bin near Bramhand Society. He seemed to have had a decent upbringing and looked lost. I felt he needed my help,” she said.
Dr Desphande, the director of Insight Mind Care Centre in Thane, decided to intervene immediately. “I rushed to the Centre and returned with a resident medical officer and ward boy. He was incongruent, had no idea how he landed in Thane and soon turned violent. We knew he was experiencing a psychotic attack,” she recalled.
Unable to proceed with treatment without the consent of the patient or his family, the hospital informed the local police station. The team also consulted Dr Sanjay Kumawat, a senior psychiatrist who practices in Thane and Mulund, and has worked with the state health department for nearly three decades.
“Dr Kumawat too certified that it was a psychotic attack and agreed that the young man needed immediate treatment. The local police gave us a go-ahead for treatment. They said when two psychiatrists have certified he isn’t mentally fit and needed treatment, they will not object. The police made the necessary records, including taking his photographs, and left him in our care,” added Dr Deshpande.
As per the Section 100 of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, a person, who looks to have mental illness and is incapable of taking care of himself and found homeless or wandering in the community, should be taken to the nearest hospital for treatment and they should trace the family and inform them about the same.
Dr Kumawat said, “Police was informed even when the relatives came and took the patient along. It is both the society and police that has to work together to help such people return to normal life.”
After two days of care and efforts, the man finally opened up to the doctors. “He gave us the details of who he is and his family. Our administrative officers got in touch with the family, which includes two brothers and their mother. The brothers live in a village in Haryana. His younger brother broke down when our team told him about the whereabouts and wellbeing of his lost brother,” she said.
Finally, on May 11, one of the brothers, Jimmy A, arrived at Insight Mind Care Centre. After a tearful reunion, the team of doctors counselled the brother about the young man’s diagnosis and further treatment.
“We made him 80% better before he left for home. The brother has promised to take care of his treatment and we will provide voluntary teleconsultations as and when needed,” said Dr Deshpande.
Speaking to HT, Jimmy A said that his brother had not taken their father’s passing in 2018 too well. “Our father lost his battle to tuberculosis. My brother started behaving strangely soon after. In the past one-and-a-half years, he has gone missing frequently, but we found him every time. This time, it was more than one-and-a-half months since he went missing. Our mother was inconsolable. We are happy Dr Deshpande found him, took care of him and we got him back,” he said.
Dr Kumawat said there is a need for more awareness in society on mental illness, especially when it comes to a serious mental disorder like schizophrenia. “It is a mental illness where the patient interprets reality abnormally. The patient has no contact with reality and in his/her own world. The behaviour is controlled by imagination and thoughts. It is like any other disease like diabetes, heart attack, asthma etc,” he said.
Dr Kumawat added that as a society, we need to be empathetic towards these patients and help them get back to the mainstream of society. “With medication, love and compassion, they can lead a normal life. We need more people like Dr Deshpande to help many like this patient. I am happy that I was part of this journey of him reuniting with his family,” he said.