Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Sunday, February 15, 2015
October 15th: Finding routes to rehabilitation
Tanya Dutt works with AASHA, an NGO based in Chennai, India promoted and run by families of persons with mental illness. AASHA provides rehabilitation through its employment projects. Here, Tanya describes how her personal experiences as a carer for a family member living with mental illness has informed her approach to working with AASHA.
Schizophrenia has played a dominant role in my life as a care giver, to a family member with Schizophrenia, and subsequently as a volunteer at AASHA- an NGO that rehabilitates and reintegrates persons with Schizophrenia and mental health issues. I grew up in an atmosphere that was sensitised to the illness and its outcomes. Love and compassion played a primary role in dealing with the illness. There was always openness in the way we as a family dealt with the illness – there were no closed door discussions, no social exclusions and no disrespect of the individual. Living with someone who has Schizophrenia means empathy becomes an emotion through which you view life every day.
"Living with someone who has schizophrenia means empathy becomes an emotion through which you view life every day"
I carried this sensitivity into my work at AASHA, where the focus is on rehabilitation through sheltered employment. AASHA runs a 40 bedded residential rehabilitation home and four sheltered employment units in Chennai India. Residents of AASHA are placed in these centres to begin the process of rehabilitation. Many are reluctant to work and have to be motivated through incentives for the time they spend in the centres. The managing staff is instructed to be flexible over shift schedules and changes in mood and behaviour. Incentives are decided based on regularity, personal hygiene, and interpersonal relationships with other residents and staff members. Over time I noticed that the residents working in the employment centres were beginning to set goals. Self motivation was high. They want to reunite with their families, secure jobs, find a partner and enjoy social interactions. There are relapses and regressions but they are outnumbered by the happy outcomes. When a relapse occurs, there is a review and we begin the process of rehabilitation again when the time is right. I find that engagement through employment is a key factor in the return to near normalcy. It is a huge motivating factor for me to continue my work in mental health when I watch someone who is battling with mental illness striving to find a balance between the illness and dealing with the challenges of leading a life in the main stream society.
Events of 2014
- In Dec 2013, AASHA residents were taken for a trip to Kanjeevaram. They were taken to Kanji Madam and had darshan at the KAMMATCHI AMMAN TEMPLE. This visit was arranged by Mr. Natrajan.
- Christmas was celebrated in AASHA home with a lot of festivity. Mr. Manuel - Treasurer of Aasha participated in the function.
- AASHA residents accompanied Ms. Nandini AASHA committee member for a marathon. She sponsored snacks and beverages for the residents during this period.
- Our residents were taken to Egmore museum, Parathasarthy Temple, Beach and Jumbo Circus for their enjoyment. All expenses were borne by AASHA.
- AASHA residents were taken to a theatre to watch block buster movie – Kochadaiyaan. Movie tickets and bus journey was sponsored by Kromatiks & Insulants Pvt Ltd.
- Vada production and sales which had stopped has resumed again. The stall is manned by AASHA resident Ms. Vijaya & Ms. Uma with help from the social worker.
- Independance Day August 15th was marked at AASHA home with flag hoisting, speech from members and distribution of snacks.
- ATMANIRBHAR TRUST run by AASHA president Ratna Chibber and Tanya Dutt - AASHA secretary donated a multi utility van to AASHA home for the purpose of transporting AASHA residents to their work places. At present AASHA Residents Mr. Ganeshan, Mr. G. SundarRaman, Mr. Srinivasan, Mr Dharmarajan who manages AASHA shop in mogappair and some others are using this transporation.
- AASHA residents Mr. G. Sundar Raman, Mr. R. Srinivasan, Mr. S.Srinivasan have been employed in employment unit managed by ATMANIRBHAR TRUST.
- AASHA president Ms. Ratna Chibber was a guest on Satyameva Jayate - a program of AAMIR KHAN FILMS and features her work in the field of mental health – AASHA shops and her company Kromatiks – an employer and donor of AASHA have been featured in the program.
Mr. Manuel is one of the founding members and Treasurer of AASHA. Here he talks about his journey over 43 years as a care giver to son.
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Tanya Dutt sharing experiences with care givers in Surat, Gujarat about forming of Self Support groups for care givers in Surat as part of...