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For the first time in this country, a mobile tele psychiatry unit commissioned by SCARF and supported by the TATA Educational Trust was flagged off by His Excellency the Governor of Tamil Nadu Sri Surjit Singh Barnala.

This was on the 9th of Feb. 2011 at the Raj Bhavan. The bus will have tele conferencing facilities, a computer for data storage and a large TV fixed at its rear. This TV will be used for awareness programmes in the villages. The bus itself will be initially stationed at Pudukottai and move from village to village accessing persons with mental illness. After the psychiatric consultation through linking with Chennai SCARF office, the medicines will be given from the pharmacy located within the bus. The bus was assembled by Ashok Leyland.

In 2009, SCARF celebrated its Silver Jubilee. For an NGO with modest beginnings in 1984 – three part-time staff, and a small office – this silver jubilee was a cherished milestone.

 SCARF’s services have not been merely confined to institutions, but extended to both urban and rural communities.

The objectives of the Community Mental Health Care programs have been:

  • Identify persons with mental health problems in the community
  • Provide treatment and rehabilitation services, at the door step
  • Sensitise the common man to mental health issues,
  • De-stigmatise and de-mystify mental illness in the lay population.
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Our strategies have included:

  • Identifying a grass root level organization , who are essentially socio-developmental in their objectives, either for the population as a whole or for the disabled in the community;
  • Training community volunteer workers in the identification and referral of persons with mental disorders, using audio-visual aids and interactions through role-play;
  • Operating periodic mental health clinics in the community to provide medical care to the identified mentally ill;
  • Increasing awareness of mental health problems in the population, using public friendly methodslike face-to-face talks, street theatre, folk dance and drama;
  • Training the community workers to implement simple psychosocial rehabilitation measures, particularly the mobilisation of  locally available resources;
  • Networking with other medical and social service organisations for the purpose of rehabilitation;
  • Establishing Family and Community support groups for the people with Schizophrenia and other chronic mental illnesses;
  • Organising programs for Promoting positive mental health .

Collaborating NGOs:

  • ECOMWEL, an NGO involved in the social and educational development in Thiruvalur Town.
  • Vidhya Praka asham, an NGO operating Day care centers for Disabled children in Kanchipuram Town.
  • Good life center : home for the destitute mentally retarded children, East Tambaram, Chennai.
  • Madras School of Social Work (MSSW) , Development center, Karalapakkam, Thiruvellore District.
  • Montford Community Development Services , Center for Urban Development.
  • Kaveripakkam Society for Reconstruction .
  • Vidya Sagar , Chennai
  • KOGS , Chengelpet
  • The Temple of  Service run by the Annalakshmi group of Hotels, whose trust  operates Medical care programs in Chennai and Coimbatore

Training:

The people involved with these organisations at various levels have been trained to:

    • Recognize possible signs and symptoms of mental health problems,
    • Plan referrals after identification,
    • Deliver medication at the homes of the sick and to deal with common, minor side effects of medication,
    • Organise Public awareness programs , using of folk drama and music,
    • Establish support groups in the community.
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The participants of the training program have been  Social workers , health educators, animators, community organizers, Volunteers, key informant, significant members from women’s club and youth club.

Mental health clinics

These are in operation on prearranged  dates, and locations. During the clinics all patients are examined and diagnosed by the doctor, who then prescribes medication, medicines are given to the patients by the mental health team.

Examples of our camps include:

1) In Tambaram the mental health program was initiated in collaborating with Good Life Centre(NGO) a home for the destitute mentally retarded children. Tambaram is located in Chennai.This clinic covers beneficiaries from lower socio economic background. Majority (60%) of the cases, which attend the clinic, are Psychoses.

2) Patinapakkam: For the last 10 years, ever since the Tsunami wrecked havoc, we have been running a mental health clinic at Patinapakkam  near Santhome, one of the badly affected areas. This is run in collaboration with the MCDS.

3) The Temple of Service is a medical program operated by the Annalakshmi group of hotels. This is an international chain of   hotels, which utilizes profits into providing free medical care to the needy. Currently, the program is operational in  Coimbatore and Chennai. SCARF has incorporated the mental health care services in the project operated in Chetput. This program primarily  caters to the slum dwellers in the area.

You can also read some success stories here