Friday, 26 December 2008

Neglecting those with mental illness

Does a societies interpretation of mental illness play any role on how its people depict their symptoms and therefore on how they treat it?
If a society attaches some stigma to mental illness does it tell anyone, anything about that particular society? What does it tell about the value system of those people?
If a society ignores its most vulnerable people or if a nation of people fails to attend to the most vulnerable of its people, because their voices are faint against the noisier larger, stronger frame work of individuals, what does it tell one of those societies?

Who cares if Maldives does not have enough mental health professionals?
Who cares if Maldives does not have a mental health legislature and its parliamentarians are too busy to handle an issue of this nature at this juncture of its political history.
Who cares if Maldives does not have a national mental health policy or programme?

It’s not a bloodline of a country we are talking about here.
Its just about forlorn, depressed patients, lost somewhere under the label of a ‘lazy person’…its just about schizophrenic patients who needs to be sent away to Guraidu…its just about drug addicts who has a comorbid antisocial personality disorder who just needs to be kept behind bars in a prison, its about people like these….who matter not at all. Perhaps some antipsychotics will do the trick. Perhaps a visit to the psychiatrist is just the answer

Is that the cultural understanding we have of mental illness??
Then why …why is it that Maldivians with mental illness, travel to India, Srilanka, Malaysia…different countries of the world….in search of therapy, in search of proper treatment. Why is it that while I live here in UK, I still receive calls from distressed patients or their relatives, asking for the addresses and contact numbers of mental health professionals in Asia…where they can go and seek help for their loved ones. Why is it that people call me to ask me when I will return to Maldives…..

I can’t help so many people. I can’t make the difference all alone. If others cannot care…..why can’t I too slumber to a state of lethargy and say just this.
Who cares?

It is because you and I together have a responsibility towards the most vulnerable of our people. It is because creating awareness about mental illness can reduce the stigma that is prevalent towards those with mental illness. It is because early intervention and eclectic treatment approaches can help reduce the distress associated with mental illness.

It is because we can inform the parliamentarians that we need to have a proper system of care established towards the mentally ill, and for that we need a mental health legislature and policy and programme.
We have moved ahead in many other areas of development and the time has now come for people like us to start voicing our concerns. This is the way forward, for a country which is definitely burdened with a multitude of mental health problems we just cannot afford to neglect those with mental illness any longer.


nymphs said...

Thanks because at least you care about us (people with mental illness under the label of lazy people). Answer to your question who cares, we patients with mental disorders care & so do you. A monthly visit for the psycatrist is not the only thing which is needed. They help when we get to them but is that enough? After being labeled as lazy for a life time we start to believe & blame our self for being lazy, very fortunate person come across a person like you & start to realize that some mental health issue is behind which is again kind of no help.
Its better knowing that we are not lazy but going through the treatment is a hassle itself not to mention the colleague’s & other people who think we are making up a story to cover up our laziness. We have to pretend everything is just fine to make our family happy so that they don’t have to worry, then they would believe it & expect us to be the life of the party. However we fail to meet their expectations hence we are labeled again as lazy bones.
And if everyone starts neglecting this minor part of the society before everyone knows there will be a huge crowd of them & the illness would be much worse. If a person is just hallucinating today if he gets proper help from the start he wouldn’t go through a major depressive state which in time lead to either suicide or a person who spends the rest of his life time behind the bars of guraidhoo which again becomes a burden to the society. Look at the state of drug dealing in our society; it happened because it went unnoticed when the issue was not as big as now it is.
After my trip to India (thanks to you) now I realize we really don’t have enough capable people here. Only one psychologist in IGMH & when she takes leave no substitute. I am also one of them who wait for your return. Yes you are also one person & you need support to back you up to voice your concerns. You can count on us (four individuals who support your work) for individual support & that’s the least I could so as one person.

Naaz said...

I will count on your support. It is after 5 years of work in Maldives that i realised I alone cannot make a real difference, unless the likes of us and those who support this work unite, the difference we want canot be achieved.
Thanks again.

Maldiveshealth said...

electric treatment. OMG. electricuting patients. u must be crazy people will say. I know its effective. seen it . good blog Naaz. keep going.

naaz said...

means two different things...thanks though!