TOPICS: Mockery of mental health

A couple of months back, I visited Patan Mental Hospital out of sheer curiosity. It was a sunny day; some trainee psychiatric nurses were eating peanuts and some hospital staffs were poring over newspapers in the sun, while the relatives of the patients and sick people were coming in and going out of the hospital premises.

Amid this not-so-hospitable ambiance, two sights particularly pulled my attention. A young person was shouting, visibly at no one. What he said did not make much sense, and seemed to interest no one, but the

talk went on non-stop. Another person was chained and seated at a doctor’s room. The latter was, not surprisingly, nowhere to be seen. Along with the doctor, the moral responsibility of the State was absent too, thereby making a cruel mockery of the human rights of people and their families living with mental disorders.

My ‘nosiness’ led me to a dozen

of rooms in the hospital. No bed

in those rooms was empty. Kin

and kith with gloom written large on their faces could be seen attending

to their sick relatives. To my

consternation, I came across not a single psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse or any other mental health professional working on the mentally challenged admitted in the hospital.

Weird it may sound but mine was a purely personal visit. Upon inquiry, I came to know that only a “psychiatric nurse” was available in the hospital at that time. I vividly remember the doctors then were not on a strike. That should serve as the tip of the iceberg as to how the demeanor of our mental health institutions is and how

the sick and their kith and kin are made to suffer inhumanly.

It’s common news that some inmates often choose and manage

to flee from mental hospitals.

Possibly, they know they will be better elsewhere — in yoga and meditation centers, for instance — than in those grungy confinements that hardly see a doctor’s visit and on whom to repose a hope for respite.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in his book “God loves fun” claims the psychiatrists would be unemployed if people learnt to meditate properly. Who knows! Mental hospitals across the globe will someday all turn into yoga and meditation centers. If the state of Patan Mental Hospital is any indicator, such phenomenon should upset no one.