For the past three years I have had the personal experience of dealing with the patients and the staff in The Government Mental Health Centre at Kuthiravattam near Kozhikode. I can clearly state the miserable conditions and problems faced by the people there and also some of the immediate measures which can be taken to improve the functioning of the hospital and the wellbeing of the people.
I went there as part of an education programme conducted by National Service Scheme in my college. And we were supposed to teach the mental patients (most of them has recovered from their mental illness) on every weekends. There were hundreds of patients who have been cured of their mental illnesses but remain to be housed in the hospital because the society and their families are not ready to accept them. There are no facilities in the hospital for these people for their relaxation and recreation. The premises are not at all environment friendly which has a drastic effect on the inmates. Patients are being cruelly treated by the staff and these atrocities are never bought infront of the world. The food provided to the patients also needs to be taken into consideration. Many times the food provided to the patients by the government does not reach them. A huge business is being played in the name of these mental patients. Lack of cleanliness is also another matter of concern.
We, students were not allowed to enter into the rooms inside the hospital and was given only a single room outside the hospital. Yet, many problems faced by the inmates could be clearly sensed and understood. There is no doubt that even more terrible things are happening inside the hospital.
A separate recreational space (a large park) with modern facilities for the patients whose movements are now curtailed within the four walls of their cells due to the insufficient space provided to them should be soon implemented. The patients should be provided with the opportunity to feel the nature and enjoy the greenish environment through the construction of gardens and the planting of more trees. The proper functioning of the separate rehabilitation centre to provide skill development training for the cured patients should also be ensured. Proper training classes should be conducted for the workers in the hospital to avoid the ill-treatment of the patients and to instill in them a commitment to the job they are doing.
A detailed project report (DPR) for Rs.20-crore renovation project has been prepared very recently and it has been planned as a comprehensive renovation project modelled after the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) in Bangalore. This project should soon be implemented by the government.