At least one in four women lodged in mental health asylums in the country are abandoned by their families who either refuse to take them back or give false addresses at the time of admission, a recent study has found.
The study by National Commission for Women (NCW) and National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) states 23.7 per cent women had been in mental health asylums for 10 years and above.
Conducted across 10 mental health institutions in the country, the survey finds that all centres struggled with reintegrating women patients. Further, according to the study, 60 per cent women in mental asylums are married and 30 per cent of them are homemakers.
“Many patients reported that they want to go home. Either their addresses cannot be traced because of illness, or they have been deliberately abandoned by their families. Some families do not want to take the patients back and provide wrong addresses at the time of admission,” the study says.
Some of the other reasons include, “property or inheritance issues, overall lack of awareness and stigma in the community et al”.
At Calcutta Pavlov Hospital, “Only 10 per cent of those fit to be discharged are reintegrated with their families and only 1 per cent would have been (discharged) with active and sustained efforts of the hospital,” the study report says.
The survey notes that given the low rate of patients rejoining their families, steps must be taken to rehabilitate and train them.
“The departments should explore new, innovative and sustainable income generating activities, provide supported employment and introduce welfare schemes for recovered homeless, abandoned women in the community,” the study report says.
“There is also a need to work on a comprehensive Rehabilitation Policy and Programmes by the departments,” it says.
NCW chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam, who has decided to monitor these 10 institutions, said there is a need to provide separate accommodation for long-stay patients or those who stay beyond six months for their training and skilling.
“Long-stay women should not be kept along with women under treatment,” Kumaramangalam said.
The 10 centres where this research was conducted were RMH Yerwada, RMH Thane, IPHB Goa, GMH Kozhikode, Calcutta Pavlov Hospital, Berhampore Mental Hospital, RINPAS in Jharkhand, MH Bareilly and IMH Amritsar. These centres were chosen based on the high numbers of long-stay patients.