The residents of Ernakulam will finally get the benefit of free mental health care in a hospital near them. The trial run for the district mental health programme was launched in the district on Monday, ahead of its official launch next month.
A team comprising a psychiatrist, a clinical psychologist, a general doctor and a nurse visited the Chengamanad CHC. The full-fledged launch of the programme is expected to begin next month.
Under the programme a team consisting of a psychiatrist and other medical staff will visit select community health centres (CHC) in different parts of the district once in every month to provide treatment and free medicines.
With this, the team will visit 20 selected CHCs in the district every month to provide the treatment. As part of the programme, the medical officers and the health staff of the CHCs will also be given training in the coming days to provide follow-up treatment after the monthly visit.
Community-level health workers like ASHAs and Junior Public Health Nurses will also be trained to identify mentally-ill patients in their locality and refer them to the CHC concerned for the monthly treatment.
In the case of serious patients, the team will refer them to Ernakulam General Hospital. Apart from treatment, awareness programmes on mental health at the community level will also be directed.
“The psychiatric treatment in the district is minimal now. There are only two psychiatrists in the entire district in the public sector. With this programme we hope to reach out to more patients in the remote areas. The training for the medical officers and health staff will begin in the coming days. This will enable them to identify mentally-ill patients in their locality and refer them for treatment,” said District Medical Officer, Junaid Rehman.
The district has started receiving the medicines for the programme. Out of the 30 or so medicines in the area, about 15 have started coming in, sources with the health department said. The appointment of a psychiatric social worker is also to be completed before the official launch of the programme.