It was in the early days of February, Grassroute was contacted by MHAT (Mental Health Action Trust), a Charitable Trust based in Kozhikode. They provide good quality, comprehensive and recovery-oriented mental health care to the poorest sections of the population with severe mental disorders. It is entirely based in the community with no provision for hospital admissions. MHAT finds their patients based on a process of economic screening. The service is provided in collaboration with like-minded local partners which makes it possible to offer services free to the end-user.
We were asked to find a permanent place for MHAT’s OP Consultation and counselling. Knocking many doors, finally St. Joseph’s Church Sanjopuram, Nayarambalam opened the doors. The parish expressed a positive notion towards providing a permanent space in the preliminary meeting in the presence of Panchayath President, Coastal area ward member and ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) Workers.
According to government estimates, the availability of mental health care in our country is 70%. As per the National Mental Health Survey 2016, 14-16% of the population in Kerala is in need of mental health services. It has been a year and a half since the Covid pandemic began to adversely affect the socio-economic sectors, and the above figures may be even higher during this period. MHAT joins hands with Nayarambalam Grama Panchayath to provide a scheme to deliver free treatment, medicine and counselling to such financially distressed, mentally challenged, dementia and students with learning disabilities. To fulfil this charity operation, MHAT needs local volunteers and community partners like Grassroute.
One day a week (3-4 hours in the afternoon), MHAT’s clinicians and staff members visit Sanjopuram Church to provide consultations to patients. MHAT identifies their beneficiaries through direct family visits based on information provided by ASHA workers, Panchayat ward members, Kudumbasree workers, Self-Help Groups and other volunteers.
“There are people who need immediate mental health care around us, but we have to open our eyes to find them.”— Meena Sreekumari, Programme Manager, Social Development & Research, MHAT
Evergreen SHG, Nayarambalam, operates under ESSS (Ernakulam Social Service Society), is also ready to support this activity. We hope many other organisations will join later.
So hopefully the clinic may commence its operations very soon.