Rony (name changed) did not even dream of a vocation while undergoing treatment for around 10 years at the Government Mental Health Centre at Kuthiravattam. It was ‘Puthujeevan’, a vocational rehabilitation centre for the mentally ill, which leased out a new life to him when he was discharged from the hospital. He need not worry about a vocation to make both ends meet. Like Rony as many as 50 cured patients have already been trained in notebook binding at the centre which is on its way to complete 13 years.
Inspired from a rehabilitation unit established at the Mental Health Centre in Kuthiravattam, Dr K R Balakrishnan, during his stint as the Superintendent, took initiative to launch such a centre out of the hospital ambience at Feroke. “In the initial stage we struggled without enough papers to meet the vocational demands of the members here.”
At present the centre is under the Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences. Their work starts at 9.30 am. Depending upon the health condition every member binds 100 to 120 books.
Notebook and files prepared by members of Puthujeevan are supplied to various departments at the Calicut University. “The centre has been executing the binding works for the interested traders also. We are not forcing anybody to buy our products, more than a vocation it is an opportunity and relief for us to mingle with the society,” said Babu (name changed), a member of Puthujeevan.
Balakrishnan recollects many incidents that have brought patients back on the track of life. He says, “Almost all the cured patients directed to the centre has shown different degrees of change. Five of the members here have got married after they felt that they were capable of managing a family. Since they are engaged in a productive work, they are receiving social and family acceptance.”
“My goal is not confined to Puthujeevan alone. I am planning to start such centres in every block panchayat,” Balakrishnan adds. He has already submitted a scheme to the Mental Health Authority regarding the launch of vocational rehabilitation centres to ensure a real work environment for those who have recovered from mental illnesses.
“We have a wonderful team here helping each other to perform their duties understanding the limitations of others. They are scripting a success story,” said the trainer at the centre, K Parvathy alias Sunitha. She has been taking care of the members here for the last 13 years.
For the renovation work of the building, the Feroke grama panchayat has earmarked an amount of `2.25 lakh.