On July 10, the Supreme Court ordered all the states and Union territories of India to implement the guidelines formulated by the Centre to ensure social security and a rehabilitation program for persons treated and recovering from mental illness. Social workers and experts in the field have welcomed the judgment but they have also raised concerns over the implementation of the guidelines and demanded that the court’s orders should be implemented without any manipulation.
An interactive session was organised by Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and Mumbai Press Club to highlight the implication of Supreme Court directions regarding rehabilitation of mentally ill persons.
Prof. S. Parasuraman, Director of TISS and Mr Tariq, an Ashoka Fellow and Director of Koshih, Lakshmi Ravikant from Banyan, a non-governmental organisation working with mentally ill destitute women addressed the session.
In his address, Prof. S. Parasuraman gave detailed information about the various projects undertaken by TISS. He also informed about the joint project conducted by the Banyan organisation and TISS.
“After their recovery, it is important to rehabilitate mentally ill people. We have to adopt a sensitive approach towards them and have to make sure that they are accepted back into the society. TISS has undertaken various programs to help their rehabilitation.
Currently, we are giving vocational training to 10 mentally ill women who have now recovered. They will be given a new home to live in. Empowerment is a way to induct them back into society,” he said. He also asked the government to provide places in order to rehabilitate more people.
Mr. Tariq, Director of Koshish organisations which works for the rehabilitation members in a Beggars Home shared his experiences of how flawed the law makes a mentally ill person an offender of begging and asked for the improvement in the law.
“There is no fixed mechanism in our law to term someone beggar and put it in Beggars Home. Sometimes the police term a mentally ill person as a beggar and make him an offender. Then he is put in a Beggars Home instead of being treated. So the guidelines advocated by Supreme Courts are progressive but there is scope for improvement. The subjectivity from the law should be removed,” he said.
Lakshmi Ravikant gave information about the ‘Home Again’ initiative undertaken by the Banyan organisation and pressed on the need of a sensitive approach towards mentally ill people.
“We have rehabilitated 166 mentally ill patients after 1 year of treatment through the Home Again project. We have received a good response for this and because of the day-to-day interaction, society have accepted them back. The project is being carried out in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Orissa. We are currently in talks with the Maharashtra government to roll out this program in the state,” she said.