Mental illness can affect anyone at any stage and people should not undermine the question of self-respect of the mentally disabled, said Manicka Tagore, MP, Virudhunagar.

Participating in the annual day event of NAMBIKKAI (care givers association for the mentally disabled) of M.S. Chellamuthu Trust and Research Foundation, here at Alagarkoil on Saturday, he said that providing genuine care with lot of affection is much needed for persons with Mental Disability (MD).

Mr. Tagore later distributed guardianship forms issued by the National Trust, gave away revolving funds to Self Help Groups attached to the project and also gave away educational assistance to the siblings of those with MD as part of the efforts to empower the care givers . The MP also inaugurated a cafeteria within the campus of the Trust where bakery products were made by persons with MD.

The Community Mental Health Project undertaken by NAMBIKKAI of M.S. Chellamuthu Trust and Research Foundation has involved in making phenomenal advancements in improving the status of mental health among the rural populace.

The project, which was started in the year 2000, saw the members reach every nook and corner in the Madurai East Panchayat Union to identify the mentally challenged people and bring them into the mainstream.

The project identified 1,099 persons, among whom women and children were found to be more in number. The project was about not only rehabilitation but also to make them productive through training programmes and tapping their potential to manufacture small useable items.

The annual day event of NAMBIKKAI exemplified the glimpses of empowerment that is happening among the persons with Mental Disabilities. The project has indeed unfettered the chains that were tied to the ankles and wrists of many mentally challenged persons in Madurai East Panchayat Union.

It was found during the project that medicines and drugs for psychiatry treatment are costlier and a few drugs had to be taken for a longer period of time so the Trust felt that the patients need to be empowered economically to the possible extent and it was then small units like candle making unit, bakery products and handicrafts were started for them.

The association founded by the family members of the mentally disabled meets once a month and discusses issues related to care giving.

Parents and siblings of mentally challenged persons shared their experiences about the intervention of the project.

S. Santiago, south Indian representative, ANDHERI-Hilfe Bonn, Germany, C. Ramasubramanian, State Nodal Officer, District Community Health Project. K. M. Kanagaraj, District Disabled Rehabilitation Officer, gave away revolving funds to three self-help groups attached to the project. R. Rajkumari, Executive Director, M. S. Chellamuthu Trust and Research Foundation was also present.

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