The state will be setting up rehabilitation homes for ‘fit-to-be-discharged patients” with mental health ailments. State health minister Chandirma Bhattacharya tabled the proposal in the assembly while presenting the state budget 2019-2020. Two such units are expected to come up at Lumbhini Park Mental Hospital and Behrampore Mental Hospital.
There are over 600 patients with mental health problems, who are ready to be discharged, in hospitals across the state. But either their family members do not want them back or the patients themselves do not want to go back fearing ostracisation and violence. “This is a consequence of PILs and advocacy by activists like us. It is timely intervention which aligns with the Mental Healthcare Act 2017,” said mental health activist Ratnaboli Ray.
Conceptualised as a half-way house, or community living centre, for socially abandoned mental patients, these units will cater to those who are employable or already employed and can manage on their own with minimum medical intervention. In fact, Anjali, that works with such patients, runs an eatery, laundry service and printing unit at Calcutta Pavlov Hospital. “There are at least 100 such patients at Pavlov and another 70 at Lumbhini Park Mental Hospital,” said Ray.
Mousumi Mukherjee, who landed in Calcutta Pavlov Hospital about eight years ago, has recovered from her illness. The 47-year-old now works in Cha Ghar, an eatery on the hospital premises. But once she is done with work, she has to go back to the hospital ward and live with other patients. A half-way house would be a boon for the likes of Mukherjee.
At present, there are five state-run mental hospitals — two in Kolkata and one each in Behrampore, Purulia and Toofangunj. The proposed unit at Lumbhini Park Mental Hospital is expected to cater to patients who are from Kolkata and its surroundings. The state has also taken up the for proposal for a 10-bedded psychiatric ward each for district hospitals and 30-bedded ward for medical colleges.
The state has enhanced the health budget from Rs 8,77,35,236 in 2018-2019 to 9,55,66,963 in 2019-2020.
Source: Times of India