Halfway homes should be unrestricted spaces: activists

How do you want a home to be? As officials are in the process of designing halfway homes, activists working in mental healthcare field and NGOs said due care should be taken in designing the physical structure and environment at halfway homes, which have to be unrestricted spaces.

According to Section 19 (3) of The Mental Healthcare Act-2017, halfway homes have to be less restrictive for people who no longer require treatment in more restrictive mental health establishments.

They said skills of those who have recovered should be mapped and enhanced while attempting to find them a livelihood option. “Study on employability of people who have recovered from mental illness has to be taken up so that one gets to know where, when and how they can be employed, and what kind of livelihood they can have,” said Ratnaboli Ray, founder of Anjali-Mental Health Rights Organisation in Kolkata, adding that the skills that people already have should be identified.

“How a halfway home is structured culturally, ideologically and philosophically is important,” she said. “We certainly don’t want an institution. But supposing people who work at halfway homes still have the culture and mindset of an institution, even the halfway homes would fail. A huge shift in culture and mindset is needed to be able to run these places. Power has to be minimised,” she said.

Co-founder of The Banyan and The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health (BALM), Vandana Gopikumar, said efforts should be made to ensure that social networks are advanced. Chennai-based NGO The Banyan works with homeless persons with mental health issues.

“Halfway homes help, to a great extent, those who cannot access community-living. But this is only a first step and is quasi-institutional. Non-clustered housing options and supportive social care services that promote cultural, economic and political participation assumes critical significance in this context as a next step as demonstrated by The Banyan in ‘Home Again’, a trial that enabled the transition of persons from institutional care into community-based arrangements,” Ms. Vandana said.

She too said non-hierarchical client-care provider relationships that focus on capabilities strengthening and democratisation of care is essential.

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Printable version | Oct 13, 2021 6:03:10 AM |

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