To mark World Schizophrenia Day, Namma Area, a designated hangout space for mental health service users, was inaugurated at the Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF) on Tuesday.
A first-of-its-kind initiative, Namma Area has been conceived in such a way that the service users themselves can take charge of and engage in activities which they find interesting.
“We have many patients who say they are lonely and feel upset at the lack of social life. Apart from inpatients who are unable to go out, there are patients whose families hesitate to send them out since they have their own concerns. Namma Area will be a comfortable and familiar space where they can meet other people, interact and engage,” said R. Mangala, Assistant Director, Media and Awareness, SCARF.
At the new space, people can read, relax, watch movies, exercise, listen to music, play games, and can also invite guest speakers. The facility will function on the SCARF premises at Anna Nagar from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and can be used by all mental health service users free of cost.
“This is a space created for everyone. Anyone should feel welcome and they can use it and it will be a space where people can connect with one another,” said Paul Heritage, Director, People’s Palace Projects UK and Professor of Drama at the Queen Mary University of London, who inaugurated the hangout.
On the occasion, the M. Sarada Menon award for mental health service users was introduced and awarded to six persons in recognition of their efforts to cope with their challenges and move forward in life. For six caregivers, including friends and family members of persons with Schizophrenia, the Maitri award was given in recognition of their support to persons with mental illnesses.
Among the Maitri awardees was a 14-year-old boy who has been assisting his grandmother in taking care of his uncle and accompanying them for his appointments. Several such stories, about mothers, neighbours and friends who have supported persons with mental illnesses, were shared on the occasion.
R. Padmavati, Director, SCARF; Mariana Steffen, Arts Project Manager, PIECEs London; and Renata Peppl, Program Manager, PIECEs London, were present.