The small busy township, Sivakasi, famous for its Fireworks and Match sticks, pathetically did not have the basic needs to take care of people suffering from Mental illness and Mental Retardation – “The Mentally Disabled”. These unfortunate persons were wandering in the streets with very scanty clothes, grabbing food from the garbage, portraying a picture of complete nuisance, in short a stray animal!
In a bid to eliminate this crisis, Sri Sathya Sai Samithi Volunteers of Sivakasi in collaboration with M.S.Chellamuthu Trust and Research Foundation (Promoting Mental Health…) and Mahatma Montessori Higher Secondary School, Madurai had a vision! They joined hands together to serve the mentally disabled people of Sivakasi who had been uncared and abandoned by the society because of lack of professional help and the stigma attached to mental illness.
The dream came true in May 2002 – the First Rural Community Mental Health Camp was inaugurated! Camps are organized on every 3rd Sundays. Sri Sathya Sai Samithi Volunteers were truly selfless and made regular home visits to bring the patients to the camp site.
To ensure that the persons suffering from mental health problems living in the condition of poverty have access to assessment and treatment services and thereby enhance the quality of life of these people.
The initiative of providing mental health care started with 45 patients per month has grown up now to an average of 310 beneficiaries per month.
Brief note on the activities carried out at the camp.
Awareness programme on mental health and mental disabilities are frequently conducted for Sai volunteers and for the general public with a view to mobilize social support and fight the practice of stigma.
The recovered beneficiaries are given vocational training programmes, like goat rearing, mushroom cultivation, soap making, etc. M.S.Chellamuthu Trust and Research Foundation, Jan Shikshan Sanslthan (JSS) and the Sathiya Sai the jointly organized training programme is to educate the beneficiaries and motivate them to start up a new life by getting involved in micro activities.
The recovered beneficiaries are placed in different industries depending upon their capability. We are happy to say that 65% of our beneficiaries are employed and successfully living a quality life.
M.S.Chellamuthu Trust and Research Foundation with its committed professional team comprising of psychiatrists, medical officers, social workers, psychologist, physiotherapist, staff Nurse and pharmacist deliver professional services to those attending the camp.
Mahatma Montessori Matriculation Higher Secondary School has committed itself in providing psychiatric medicine.
Sai volunteers take care of logistical arrangements for the camp.
The public of Sivakasi responded positively to this initiative. A Kalyana Mahal is offered free of cost for conducting the camp, free food is made available to the persons with mental disabilities and their care takers during the camp.
1115 persons were identified, assessed, treated and rehabilitated with the resources in the community.
23 SHGs are functional and they are involved in micro credit activities and in starting micro enterprises.
Community enterprises are launched by the members of SHG:
Increased awareness leading to reduction in stigma.
Mental health services have become available, affordable and accessible to everyone in the villages.