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Breaking the stigma of mental illness, one tour at a time

Another fun fact, NIMHANS houses the ‘Noronha gardens’ with hundred-year-old trees and plants with anti-depressant properties.

Published: 28th October 2018 08:48 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th October 2018 08:48 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Who knew that patients suffering from mental health illnesses at National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) could make candles of various kinds, bake cakes, make eco-friendly holi colours and run their own cafe?

Another fun fact, NIMHANS houses the ‘Noronha gardens’ with hundred year old trees and plants with anti-depressant properties.

To break the stigma around mental disorders, people were taken around the hospital as part of a tour organised by the Department of Mental Health Education here on Saturday called — ‘Stories Against Stigma — Walking Tour of NIMHANS’. 

Dr Santosh Loganathan, associate professor of Department of Psychiatry, said, “The trees create a therapeutic atmosphere for the patients. The hospital is spread over 130 acres. The first qualified Indian psychiatrist who headed the hospital, Dr Francis Noronha, had an eye for aesthetics. 
He built lawns and transformed what used to be a lunatic asylum to what it is today.”  
In 2013, horticulture department officials conducted a tree census and gave every tree its proper scientific name.

 “Before the boundary walls were built, general public would come and relax in these lawns along with the patients,” Loganathan said. Caregivers playing badminton with the patients in the lawns is a common sight in the evening, said, Dr. KS Meena, associate professor of Department of Mental Health Education.
A bed for B5

“Patients in the general ward pay a modest sum of `5 for a bed per day as compared to private hospitals where it is more expensive. Those who are better off pay `40 to `50,” he said.  The participants not only learned about the heritage museum where one can get a glimpse of the history of NIMHANS and also watch movies on mental health, but they also learned about the Accelerator Programme for Discovery in Brain Disorders (ADBS) where the biology of mental illness is studied by applying genetic analysis.
Participants were surprised to find a Family Psychiatric Centre where families from all across the world come to resolve domestic problems. 

This involves a short stay at the centre for therapy. The most misunderstood procedure in mental health treatment -- Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) or ‘shock treatment’ was demonstrated for 20 odd members of the public. 
Dr Meena said, “We don’t forcibly administer ECT to any patient without their consent and their family’s. Also, the convulsions are not as vigorous and evident as shown in movies.” 
Loganathan said, “Medicines take two to three weeks to act in people with suicidal tendencies. ECT is rapid.” 

Two tours were conducted on Saturday and the department will decide on future dates and intimate the public through its Facebook page. 


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