‘Awareness needed on mental illness’

ST CORRESPONDENT
Thursday, 13 February 2020

“We realised that our first patient was a well educated man from a well-to-do family. However, they were also aware that mental illness can happen to anyone. This was how we realised that there is no organisation which dedicatedly does work on this.” Dr Bharat Vatwani said.

PUNE: There is a need for more awareness regarding mental illness, said Dr Bharat Vatwani, who last year won the Ramon Magsaysay award for his work with mentally ill patients. He said that when a mentally ill patient goes back home, the entire village starts to recognise that treatment is possible.

He was speaking during the book launch of ‘Bedakhal’, a Marathi translation of the book ‘Unseen, Unheard, Unsaid’ written by Dr Bharat Vatwani. The book has been translated by Anand Agashe. 

Dr Vatwani recalled the first incident which motivated him and his wife Dr Smitha Vatwani, to start this work. “We realised that our first patient was a well educated man from a well-to-do family. However, they were also aware that mental illness can happen to anyone. This was how we realised that there is no organisation which dedicatedly does work on this. Hence, we decided to start ‘Shraddha Rehabilitation Foundation’, our organisation,” he said.

He said the team of social workers who became part of the foundation have had overwhelming experiences during reunions. 

“When the patient goes back home, the feeling of helping a family changes you to the core,” said Dr Vatwani.

He said that when a patient is taken back, the de-stigmatisation of mental illness happens. “Sometimes, when a patient is back and the medicines are over, the patient again shows symptoms of illness. This time, the family as well as other villagers realise that medicines are important. Hence, the awareness around mental illness increases,” said Dr Vatwani.

Every reunion is a statement of destigmatising mental illness, said Dr Anand Nadkarni, who was moderating the event on Monday.

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