M. S. Chellamuthu Trust's initiative on one-acre land at Alagarkoil

In an initiative to support the families of mentally ill persons, an agro project was launched on one acre land at Alagarkoil near here on Friday.

The life supporting psycho-social rehabilitation project was taken up by the M. S. Chellamuthu Trust and Research Foundation at Ayathampatti village on the foothills of Alagarkoil in association with Subitcham, a family fellowship comprising of care givers and family members of mentally challenged persons.

Keshav Desiraju, Special Secretary, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare formally inaugurated the project in the presence of Sujaya Krishnan, Joint Secretary in the Ministry and C. Ramasubramanian, a well-known consultant psychiatrist who has been spearheading mental health activities in the State. Mentally ill persons and those recovering along with their family members/care givers would be involved in this agro project for their welfare. In the one acre land provided by the Trust, crops would be grown as per season and the income would be shared by the participating families.

“Most of the family members feel isolated due to the guilt feeling and stigma attached to the illness. But, through the voluntary fellowship initiative called Subitcham, they have developed confidence and camaraderie among themselves. The agro project will generate income and this is an agro-based rehabilitation for mentally ill persons and families,” says Dr. Ramasubramanian, popularly known as CRS.

While the family members of the mentally challenged persons will manage cultivation, those who have recovered through treatment will work on the field. Income will be shared by them and the Foundation along with agriculture experts and institutions would provide technical/marketing help. To begin with, the agro project will take off with vegetables.

“The money coming from agro project can be used for livelihood and to purchase medicines. Mental health professionals will support them and M. S. Chellamuthu Trust will extend logistics support,” he said.

Addressing the inmates and their families, the Special Secretary Mr. Desiraju, who is the grandson of former President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, said that he has learnt a lot after meeting the patients and seeing the vocational work being done by them at Alagarkoil- bakery unit, candle unit, cafeteria, special school and so on.

“There are lessons to be learnt from this community. It is nice to see people from different places living together and no one is alone. I got an opportunity to see all of you,” he said referring to the mentally ill patients and their care givers.

Joint Secretary Ms. Sujaya Krishnan said that the agro initiative is a useful step to make the mentally ill persons as productive members in society after their treatment. “The M. S. Chellamuthu Trust is giving life to such people and this community mental health project is a role model project,” she added.

Earlier, they went around the campus and saw the facilities there after which K. S. P. Janardhan Babu, Assistant Director (programmes), made a presentation on the programmes being implemented by the Trust.

R. Rajkumari, Executive Director, M. S. Chellamuthu Trust, Janet Shankar, professor and Head of Department of Psychiatric Social Work in Madurai Institute of Social Sciences, N. M. H. Kalaivani, president, Subitcham and E. Ellappan, project coordinator, Agro Project, were among those who spoke.

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