Mental Patients Languish in Hospitals in India


I was looking through my alerts, and found this rather depressing story on the Times of India, of a woman who has been disowned and abandoned by her family, even after being successfully treated for bipolar disorder.

(The article headline uses the word ‘cured,’ which I think is misleading, but hey, that’s modern journalism for you.)

It’s not just a single individual, though, for at the Delhi government run Institute of Human Behaviour and Health Sciences, a hospital for mental illness, there are some threescore or more patients here alone, thousands nationwide, who have suffered disownment by their relations, who evidently want nothing to do with them.

This is unfortunate in the extreme, and I find it difficult to wrap my mind around the idea of willfully rejecting your own family members over an illness, and then threaten legal action against the hospital for contacting the family.

It’s to me kind of like disowning someone because of a more overtly physical and equally noncontagious disease even when it’s effectively treated or actually cured.

What’s heartbreaking about this is that many of the patients are sustaining themselves from day to day with what seems like the false hope that they are still loved by their families.

But at the same time I’m fully aware that my incredulity has no effect on reality, and even though I don’t like it, this is a very real situation.

Evidently the hospital and a local legal authority are planning to take the issue to Delhi high court, to get a decision for this and all similar cases.

I personally agree with Dr. Nimesh Desai that this sort of rejection and apathy counts as a human rights violation that needs to be addressed, and families who are financially and otherwise able to care for their disabled relations should be legally required to do so.

It would cut down on the workload in hospitals, and alleviate much misuse of public resources, and I think, make it easier to accommodate new patients to more efficiently and effectively treat them.

Here’s to the court’s decision in favor of the disowned patients… May it succeed where other efforts seem to have failed.

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4 thoughts on “Mental Patients Languish in Hospitals in India

  1. I would like to find out if they (India the country) have corrected the problems reported on maybe three years ago by I think it was NatGeo TV of the fact that India only spends a small fraction of the same percentage of their budget compared to the US for mental health at all. There was also a question as to the effectiveness of their treatment, apparently a good portion was under the direct control of the directing Dr. , who was using his own homeopathic treatment. The state hospitals were overcrowded by a factor of 5 or so each, and the disowning was rampant. Further they reportes found that many families had “locked away” the ill as a family embarrassment, often in attics and chicken coops, literally “chaining them up” so their neighbors wouldn’t find out, using covers like “they went travelling”. The rpogram then said an investigation and reform were underway. It sounds like they still have a lot of work to do on the general population’s perceptions.

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