BENGALURU: Popular culture, especially movies, portray mental hospitals as prison-like structures where violent patients are the norm, and a mental disorder means patients chained to a bed screaming for help. To change that perception, one of the oldest mental health institutes in the country, is opening its doors to the public.
The Department of Mental Health Education, National Institute of Mental Health And Neurosciences (NIMHANS) will organise its first ever walking tour of the hospital -- Stories against Stigma. This initiative is one of its kind where a mental health institution’s doors are opened to the public to destigmatise mental institutions and patients.
The department, through its faculty members and fellows pursuing mental health, will facilitate a guided tour of the campus for groups of 15-20. “The idea is to talk of the history, heritage buildings and destigmatise the public’s attitude towards mental health hospitals and educate people on how NIMHANS has evolved over the years into an institute of national importance,” said Dr K S Meena, Associate Professor, Department of Mental Health Education, NIMHANS.
The brain museum and new treatment techniques that have come up in the hospital will also be showcased, she said. “We will tell them how mental hospitals are designed as opposed to how people assume they are. There is a rehabilitation unit where patients are employed and they do meaningful work, and are paid. They run a cafe where they serve healthy food as part of their social skills,” she added. The hospital is not as scary as they presume and the patients are not as violent as they think they are, she said.
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The first batch of the tour will commence on October 27 at 9.30 am and the second batch will commence at 10:30 am. The fee for the tour is Rs 100. For registrations and queries, those interested can send an email to email@example.com with ‘Walking Tour of NIMHANS’ in the subject.