Inter-departmental coordination and sustained efforts have resulted in reuniting 17 mentally ill persons rescued from the streets with their families after complete recovery at the District Mental Health Centre in the district.
The latest case is a 50-year-old man who has been reunited a couple of days ago with his family traced to a village in Kolar district in Karnataka.
The man was found mentally ill and wandering in the district in October last and was rescued by a team and admitted to the District Mental Health Centre on Dr. Muthulakshmi Ammaiyar Memorial Government Hospital campus in Pudukottai Town. Various tests were conducted on him to determine his sugar level, blood pressure and tuberculosis. He was also tested for COVID-19.
Treatment for his mental condition and rehabilitation were carried out which eventually led to his recovery. He was able to disclose details of his native village and family members, which finally led to the reunion after due verification.
Among the 17 rescued and rehabilitated in the last six months at the centre, nine were women, says Dr. Karthik Deivanayagam, District Mental Health Programme Officer.
Fully funded by the State Health Department, the centre is at present treating 40 patients including 20 women. The district has taluk-level rescue and reunion teams comprising officials from revenue, health, police and District Differently Abled Welfare departments besides those from the local body.
The comprehensive care starts from the time the persons are rescued. Their medical and mental health care begin once their basic needs are attended to and they are screened for life-threatening complications, says Dr. Karthik Deivanayagam.
The rehabilitation services are provided during the course of time. A three-pronged ‘Bio-Psycho-Social’ approach is followed while treating every rescued mentally ill patient which comprises medical care, psychological therapies and social support. Depending on the severity of the mental illness the required psychological treatment and therapies are provided.. Basic needs such as food, dress and other items are also provided free of cost.
The District Mental Health Centre has a team consisting of three psychiatrists, a psychologist and five social workers to attend to the medical and psychological needs of every patient. The comprehensive care for every patient includes improvement in self-care and communication.
During the course of treatment, the team at the centre establishes rapport with the patients who gradually come out with information about themselves, their home and family over a period of time, which is duly verified.
As part of comprehensive care, the patients are also imparted social skills on anger management and ways to handle emotional disturbance besides engaging them in physical activity such as gardening and craft making, he adds.
Social support is provided in the form of lending help in getting disability certificate or disability identity card to eligible patients and Aadhaar card. Prior to reunion, complete verification of the family members is done and the patients are reunited once they recover completely. Follow-up measures are taken once they are reunited with their families.
Dr. Karthik Deivanayagam says 40 rescued persons undergoing treatment at the centre have shown nearly 70% to 80% improvement, and efforts to reunite them through inter-departmental coordination are under way.