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Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019

Patients make Thane Mental Hospital their home as kin disown them

mumbai Updated: Oct 11, 2019 00:39 IST
Ankita G Menon
Ankita G Menon


Moti Chua was six years old when he was brought to Thane Mental Hospital in 1975.

A schizophrenia patient, Chua is 50 years old and completely cured. He flits about from ward to ward. He knows all the patients and the medicines they take. The hospital has become his home. He does not know where his family is.

Like Chua, there are 709 inmates who have been cured completely but continue to live in the hospital premises because either their family has abandoned them or they do not know where their family is.

The cured inmates are engaged in gardening, tailoring, cooking and cleaning the hospital premises.

“Involving them in various skill development activities will also help generate revenue. It will instill confidence in them,” said a senior doctor at Thane Mental Hospital.

A total of 475 patients have been living there for more than 10 years; 156 inmates have lived for over 15 years.

The mental health cell of the Directorate of Health Services bears the cost of medical bills and accommodation of patients.

“Some of the inmates have only lived in the hospital. They hardly know the world outside. Those who are termed fit by doctors should return to their family and visit rehabilitation centres. The lack of such facilities has increased the number of abandoned patients,” said the doctor.

Societal pressure is one of the major factors that prompt families to abandon the patients. The rehabilitation centre in the hospital is helping inmates live a normal life. The rehabilitation centre in the hospital imparts training in painting and making handicrafts based on a patient’s interest.

“We prefer to keep the inmates occupied by reading out the newspaper to them. They celebrate festivals together. V Thatte, a patient, is good at decorations and especially making rangolis. Thatte’s creativity has had a positive impact on her recovery,” said Dr Anjali D, psychiatrist at the mental hospital.

The inmates are encouraged to participate in activities such as painting, rangoli-making, stitching, embroidery, painting diyas and making lanterns. The products are exhibited or sold so that they earn some money.

“If inmates generate revenue by making products, it will not only make them independent but the cost too will reduce,” said Dr Sanjay Bodade, superintendent of Thane Mental Hospital.

Volunteers at the hospital try to contact the patients’ families. Every year, around 15 patients are reunited with their families.

A few years ago, a patient, around 31 years old, he was found on a road in Mulund. After his treatment, he gave details about his native place. The volunteers traced his family at Satara and reunited him with his mother and two brothers within a year of treatment.

But, not all families are willing to take back such patients.

“There are various problems we face when we reach out to patients’ family — either the parents have passed away or siblings are reluctant to take them home. Sometimes, relatives give false addresses during registration, making it difficult to trace them,” said a volunteer who has to look for families, counsel and rehabilitate over 400 patients every year.

Sometimes, volunteers perform the last rites of patients as the family is unwilling to accept them or are difficult to trace. “Even after patients are cured and reunited with their families, it is essential to provide regular counselling. Most patients are destitute rescued by the police. After a patient is cured, social workers have to locate and verify addresses and initiate the process to reunite him/ her with family,” said Bodade.

“It is essential for cured patients to get back to the society otherwise their mental health problems may deteriorate. We should have day-care provisions across the region as this will provide them better healthcare,” said Anjali D.

First Published: Oct 11, 2019 00:39 IST

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