THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Parents of Amulya (name changed) were ecstatic when she won medals in a sports competition a few months ago. However, a year ago, the 14-year-old was a problem child. Diagnosed with conduct disorder, a serious behavioural and emotional disorder that can occur in children and teens, she was unmanageable when they brought her to the Mental Health Centre (MHC) at Oolanpara.
She showed all the typical symptoms of the disease such as mood swings, irritability, violence, borderline personality and even made suicide attempts. But it was when she was shifted to a family ward that the daughter and mother came to understand each other better.
“It was a learning experience for me. I started appreciating her involvement in drawing and writing. She too responded positively to the treatment,” said Amulya's mother. According to her, lack of understanding of mental problems faced by her daughter was one of the reasons for adjustment issues. With the intervention, the mother stopped blaming her for the 'unusual behaviour' and started engaging with her daughter more constructively.
The mental health professionals vouch for facilities to help the family deal with the challenges thrown at them by the disease. “Family relationships often get strained due to mental illness. Lack of proper communication delays recovery and integration into the society,” said Dr Dhinesh R S, a psychiatrist in MCH at Oolanpara. According to him, it was important to involve the family in the treatment procedure. The mental hospital treats serious illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, substance abuse and others such.
A supportive environment
The Mental Health Centre is constructing short stay homes to provide a supportive environment for family therapy. The building used by the erstwhile royal family in the compound will be demolished and a five-room facility will be built at a cost of D50 lakh funded by the Social Justice Department. “It is a novel initiative to make mental health care popular. The facility is expected to improve bonding between patients and family members,” said Dr Anil Kumar, superintendent of MCH.
According to him, the facility was planned due to past instances of patients returning due to adjustment issues with families. The short-stay will have beds, toilet and kitchen attached. The rooms will be constructed to give enough privacy to families.There will be a common courtyard and a garden between two rooms. Minister of Health and Social Welfare K K Shailaja had laid the foundation stone for the facility last week.
Mental Health Centre (MHC) at Oolanpara is one of the oldest mental hospitals in the country
Founded in 1870,
MHC turns 150 in 2020
Plagued by a shortage of staff
It has an average of 25 outpatients per day, 53,000 yearly
Admission to de-addiction centre: 411 patients
Admission in child OP: 16 patients
4,500 - 5,000 inpatient admission per year
IP discharge per year: 4400