Every month, the ant conducts mental illness treatment camps at its own campus.

While over 500 patients attend the camp – to see the doctor and to collect their medicines, there are also 35-40 new patients every month. That these services have a demand can be seen by the fact that though we charge a fee which covers the medicine costs, many hire vehicles and come from even 100 kilometres away! We also advocate with the government for services to get free and quality treatment for mental patients.

Number of patients registered every month – 600-650

Number of epileptic patients registered – 200-250

In an attempt to provide a holistic community approach to mental illness, the ant started the Community Mental health Project (now called Jana Man Swasthya Programme). This ambitious project strives to look after mental health of one lakh population.

 

In a survey conducted in the villages covered under this project, around 93% people had heard of the programme and a whopping 94.2% said that the patients got better with the treatment. We are now setting up Family support groups in the project villages, which will then slowly grow as advocacy groups for rights of mentally ill patients in the future.

the ant's mental illness camps in north-east
mental illness camps at the ant campus
Discussion with traditional faith healers or Ojahs
Discussion with traditional faith healers or Ojahs

   This initiative was supported by the Tata Trusts as part of their multi-partner community mental health initiative.

 

Faith healers called ojah gurus are usually the first line of treatment for villagers who see mental illness as a “curse” caused by an ‘evil eye’. Instead of rubbishing such deeply entrenched beliefs, along with making medication treatment, we decided to work with the faith healers – to understand their system better and expose them to our treatment system. It took time to win their trust, but we finally got 31 ojha gurus (both men and women) to take part in a day-long sharing programme. It was a learning experience – both ways – and by the end of the say, the faith healers were demanding many more exchanges of this nature.