Special Correspondent

They urge government to provide medicines at nearest health post

They have difficulty in getting the identity cards

Need for vocational training, day care centres stressed

CHENNAI: Caregivers of people with mental illness have appealed to the government to provide medicines at the nearest government health post.

The caregivers, who met under the aegis of The Banyan, a non-governmental organisation working with the mentally ill, placed their demands before government officials at a meeting held on Saturday, ahead of the World Mental Health Day to be observed on October 10. The idea is to improve the life of those suffering with residual disability following treatment for mental illness.

Around 200 people, many of them caregivers, who had come from Cuddalore and Kancheepuram districts besides Chennai, presented their problems before District Rehabilitation Officer A. Joseph Xavier and Placement Officer, State Commissioner for Disability, C.A.R. Sridhar.

Many of them said that they had difficulty in getting the identity card that would ensure them the disability allowance. Those who had been treated for their conditions were on medication and could not return to work as they were not trained.

The demands made included the need for vocational training, day care centres, easy access to medicines close to home and disability allowance for those who had been provided with identity cards.

K.V. Kishore Kumar, chief of Community Mental Health from NIMHANS, said though the Persons with Disability Act was enacted 13 years ago, there was no significant improvement in the lives of people with mental illness. The system had failed considering that people remained unaware of their rights.

Mr. Xavier explained the various schemes and procedures to be followed for obtaining the ID card and the disability allowance. The department has prepared short films on mental illness that will be released shortly, he said. He also explained the method for filling applications for bus passes.

Mr. Sridhar said that the government provided allowance to persons with over 60 per cent disability. For those who fell in the below poverty line category, it had various schemes that the families could avail of.

The core advocacy group formed by the caregivers took an oath to fight for financial assistance, to ensure that medicines were made available at the PHC and create awareness to improve the lifestyle of those living with residual disability.

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