Taking up a sustainable and holistic approach that involves the community, Actor Deepika Padukone’s LiveLoveLaugh (LLL) Foundation has launched a rural mental health programme in Tiruvallur district on Saturday.
The launch brought together various community stakeholders, including persons with mental illnesses, their caregivers, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and ASHA workers at Chinna Idukku village in Tiruvallur. Ms Padukone spent the day interacting with them about mental health, awareness, stigma and interventions that would benefit them.
“We decided early on into the Foundation’s journey that even if our numbers with regard to impact were small, the quality of impact is where our focus should be,” she said, speaking to mediapersons on the sidelines of the launch. “Mental health is so complex that there are several things we don’t see and can’t understand. This makes us realise that there’s so much more ahead of us, and we have a long way to go,” she said.
Stating that the rural programme was aimed at making mental healthcare more accessible and affordable, she said they would look at collaborating with governments to scale up and be able to make a bigger impact going forward. In Tiruvallur, the LLL Foundation has partnered with Vasantham Federation of the Differently Abled, a grassroots organisation, to facilitate the implementation of the programme.
“We have identified around 500 persons with mental illnesses as well as 480 caregivers across six blocks in the district. After identifying persons with mental illnesses, our role is to facilitate and ensure that they get access to psychiatric treatment at hospitals in their district, medicines at primary healthcare centres (PHCs), apply for their Unique Disability ID Card and constantly create awareness about the prevention and treatment of mental illnesses. This is done in close coordination with the District Mental Health Programme,” said A. Livingston, president of the association.
Among the focus points of the rural mental health programme is its inclusion of caregivers and offering them support. As a step towards this, the Vasantham Federation along with the Carers Worldwide has created 12 caregiver support groups and hope to increase it to 50.
“Research all over the world indicates that if a community comes together, we can reduce the impact of mental illnesses. While persons with mental illnesses face social isolation and stigma, caregivers too are impacted. They make up the foundation for an individual to improve their mental health, and it is important that the programme include them as well,” said Anna Chandy, trustee, LLL Foundation. She further said partnering with a local, grassroots organisation and community stakeholders helped take the programme forward effectively with a better understanding of the demographic and the micro-culture there.
After Karnataka and Odisha, Tamil Nadu is the third State where the foundation has rolled out its rural mental health programme. “An all-encompassing programme, this will ensure equitable access to psychiatric treatment, medicines, rehabilitation support camps and vocational training through targeted interventions. As a sustainable model, we look at supporting the community for about five to seven years, and empowering them to take it forward,” said Anisha Padukone, CEO, LLL Foundation.