Boredom and lethargy no longer mark their days. The 200-odd patients of the Mental Health Centre here, who are fit enough to be rehabilitated, now have their days so filled with activities that they all look forward to taking on new tasks the next day.

A series of recent initiatives aimed at the rehabilitation of patients as well as better utilisation of the resources at the hospital has been winning the hearts of the patients and the staff alike at the MHC.

“We were quite concerned that we had such a high number of patients who were well enough to be discharged but were continuing in the hospital since their families did not want to take them back. That is when we started thinking about launching some meaningful rehabilitation projects ourselves within the campus,” says G. Sunilkumar, Superintendent, MHC.

The hospital has now kicked off a major project, along with the State Horticulture Mission, to convert the 36-acre hospital campus into a lush green garden. Horticorp Mission has mapped the entire campus and identified areas where large-scale vegetable farming, ornamental garden and a medicinal plants garden can be initiated.

Tie-up with Horticorp

Horticorp Mission is thus providing Rs. 5.5 lakh worth vegetable saplings, medicinal plants and farming implements to start off. They have also engaged a technical assistant exclusively for the MHC project.

“We are planting Neem and Ashoka trees all along the walkways on the campus, which is believed to render the air pure. The entire land has been cleared of shrubs and tilled into separate plots to grow a variety of vegetables. We have planted a lot of mangosteen, durian and rambutan saplings too,” says Dr. Sunil.

“There are already 75 mango trees and over 100 jackfruit trees. Every year, truckloads of jackfruit go waste. From this year onwards, Horticorp has agreed to buy the fruits,” he said.

The tree-shadowed areas inside the campus have now been planted with tubers, especially tapioca and yams, provided by the Central Tuber Crops and Research Institute. Medicinal plants — aloe vera, shatavari, thippali, iruveli, naruneendi and so on — are also being planted in huge plots so that the hospital can eventually make some money out of it.

Good response

Not just the staff, the patients are also very enthused about the changes happening inside the MHC campus. The patients in the rehabilitation ward — persons who are fully cured but need a maintenance dose of medication — now enthusiastically begin their mornings tending to the plants.

The other 200-odd patients are also being deployed in the gardening activities, accompanied by nursing students, as part of rehabilitative therapy.

“We have formed a Walkers' Club here now. Nursing staff will arrange patients (only those fit for rehab) in groups and the nursing students will take them out on morning walks every day inside the vast campus. The work in the gardens and morning walks will keep up their spirits and they also need this physical activity. The response from the patients has been very enthusiastic,” Dr. Sunil said.

Not many would know that in the midst of the vast campus is a huge pond, surrounded by lush, wild vegetation.

The area is walled and secluded. There are walkways and benches around the pond. The authorities are toying with ideas like fish farming or lotus cultivation in the pond.