KOCHI: A promising fine arts student in his teens, he started losing control of himself and soon became mentally ill. For the next 40 years, he remained a nuisance to his mother and neighbourhood. But colours have returned to the life of Krishna Prasad (name changed), 57, as he has made a turnaround in just five months. And Greeshma Foundation, which made it possible, is planning to celebrate it in Kozhikode with an exhibition of his paintings, which he has done since his comeback.
Prasad’s is just one of the many moving stories the Alappuzha-based NGO has to tell as it provides free treatment and rehabilitation to the mentally ill from economically poor background irrespective of their age.
The foundation strives to achieve its objective --- to end the stigma and discrimination towards the mentally ill --- by extending support for the rest of their lives, but by retaining them in their homes. Greeshma has so far adopted 55 patients.
“There’s no ‘admission’ into our clinic because we feel it leads to patients’ isolation. For us, attending to a patient means adopting him/her for life. We know our model makes it difficult for family members as they, being poor, have to struggle day in and day out to earn a living. So we offer medical as well as monetary help and other necessary support through our volunteers,” said Ranjith Govindapanicker, promoter of Greeshma, which has been functioning under the guidelines of Dr Manoj Kumar of Kozhikode-based Mental Health Action Trust (MHAT).
Ranjith decided to start the foundation after his sister suffered a setback. From a school topper and national merit scholarship winner, she, owing primarily to the weight of expectations, began showing signs of depression at 15 and gradually turned schizophrenic. It shook his entire family. An engineer, Ranjith spent time researching on schizophrenia to bring his sister back to life and on realising that what mental patients need utmost is love, decided to start Greeshma. And he opted to move to Qatar to run the foundation.
Noorjahan V A, who was at the clinic last week with her ailing son R Mohammed, said: “Only we parents know how much mental agony we endure when we’ve a patient at home. I used to take my son to the Alappuzha Medical College, but doctors keep changing there. He has been getting better since we came here three years ago. We want more people to come forward and support Greeshma because we want it to remain amid us.”
Greeshma does get donations from several good Samaritans and what it earnestly looks for are volunteers.
Sona K Narayanan, a psychologist and social worker associated with MHAT, said: “At Greeshma, we adopt a bio-psycho-social approach. Follow-up, particularly house visits, is important and we need more volunteers, who’re ready to take turns and offer mental and physical support to the patients’ families.