April 19, 2005

The Patent Act 2005 - the office of the National Consultant of Mental Health

The National Consultant of Mental Health is a psychiatrist who had earlier been in the Army. He was not in his office. So I was taken to another room of another doctor working under the National Consultant. I was asked to wait for some time. After forty five minutes he spoke to me. When I asked him whether the prices of the drugs for treating major mental illnesses would increase he said that he did not know. I told him that presently, the wide range of affordable drugs were the only facility provided by the government. Probably he was aware that despite the Indian Disability Act 1995 wherein mental illness was included as a disability, the Government had provided no disability benefits, no disability insurance... the inclusion of mental illness as a disability was only on paper. He was very condescending. He said, ‘do you expect me or anyone to employ a schizophrenic with 40% disability? What will that person be capable of doing?’ I felt a surge of hopelessness - a doctor in the office of the National Consultant of Mental Health talking with such disdain! However I told him that I knew several people who were working where the employers had empathy and understanding. When I asked him what steps the government was taking to prevent the generics from disappearing from the market when the drugs were patented, whether newer enabling drugs would be available in India....he kept saying ‘next question’ without answering any of the questions. When I asked him as to who would give us these answers he said no one would because no one knew anything besides he was an ophthalmologist. He said that there was no point in going around and asking any clarifications. I would not get any. I felt horror when I heard those words.

I wanted to cry out aloud ‘Where should I go next? Please help me. Is there no one who cares for these people who suffer so much?’ I knew there was no point. I was at the wrong place. There would only be more scorn. Trying to stay calm I stood up to leave while the doctor looked at me across his table. I heard him speaking ...the budget for the National Mental Health Programme has been increased from Rs.19 crores to 190 crores. Mental health has become an important concern for the Government. We are developing I.C.E packages for bringing about awareness of mental illness in the community...’ What is I.C.E’, I asked? ‘Information, Communication and Education’, he replied. Who were involved in making these packages - I asked. He said psychiatrists and experts. ‘Were families also involved?’, I asked him. He thundered ‘do you doubt their expertise, their qualifications?’ I told him that perhaps he was not aware that most people with serious mental illness in India lived with their families. There are insufficient facilities for hospitalization even when the illness was acute. It was the families who took care of them. Families were the ones who constantly lived with the illness. Families could offer a wealth of information and contribute to these packages. He said, ‘why don’t you submit a proposal? We will look into it.’ I knew it was time to leave. To leave a room mired in insensitivity and apathy, inhabited by creatures of habit. I left the room with these unspoken words – ‘Breathes there a man with a soul so dead...’

Posted by survivor at April 19, 2005 02:21 AM


dear mom
please forgive me for being so casual, but i'm american! i hope you continue writting on this site i enjoy your thoughts and feelings. you have the courage most of us around the world are afraid to voice. you are a inspriation and a fighter, and hope to be able to help my sibling someday as you help your daughter and the indian society.

Posted by: Antonietta at May 23, 2005 07:27 AM

I miss you from this web-site. I hope you and your daughter are well.

Posted by: Ann at May 29, 2005 06:02 AM

Dear Mother and Survivor,

I just wanted to let you know that I think of you, your girl and the rest of your family almost daily. I hope your doing well.


Posted by: Moeder at May 30, 2005 10:32 AM

And..., I thought that the National Consultant for Mental Health was a Psychiatrist!!!

Posted by: Casaneva at July 9, 2005 12:43 AM

To the Mother in India. Your story unfortunatly too familiar to me. I have just returned from Chennai where I work alongside families affected by a major mental illness. So many people with a mental illness in India do live at home. Stigma is very active in India. I believe that there has been a movie about people with mental illness just been launched in Pune. I was unable to attend.I have been to India several times now to work in this area and will be returning. I keep up with what the Banyan in Chennai is doing plus other community organisations such as AAsha. You mention the hospitals, to me they are grossly under funded and in very poor condition. One I visited was built in the late 1700's. However I will keep an eye on thios web site and try to keep up with what is posted. If I can help I will certainly try. by the way I am also a family member.

Chairman Asian region (Incl India & Sri Lanka)
Immediate Past President World Fellowship for Schizophrenia

Posted by: Jim Crowe at August 16, 2005 02:29 PM

I live in the United States where we have many drugs and services available for the mentally ill. We are dependant on the governtment to help us with these problems. It is a social problem BUT despite our wealth and technology, the World Health Orginization found this country, the United States of America, to have the HIGHEST RATE OF MENTAL ILLNESS IN THE WORLD!! Please DON"T depend on your government to help you. You have something much, much greater than we do, to fight mental illness. It is no wonder that you have mentally ill people, "working where the employers had empathy and understanding." It is because India has families involved. Most people with serious mental illness in India lived with their families. You are fortuante that there are insufficient facilities for hospitalization even when the illness is acute. India families take care of them. Families are the ones who constantly live with the illness. Families will love their mentally ill relatives. Most facilities for hospitalization, won't. Here in the wealthy United States, over half the children that go to school, do not have a complete family to go home to after school. (please pray for us) We have many, "creatures of habit", in our country. They have a long history of cutting the funds that care for the mentally ill. How can we trust them to establish caring programs for our mentally ill loved ones.

You have the best solution, "Families". We don't really have many of those here that are complete. Form family support groups. There is an orginization called NAMI (National Aliance for the Mentally Ill) It started here but we lack complete family structure. Look it up on the internet; maybe you can start one, It should work better in your country where there is a higher percentage of complete families.

Don't leave it to those that you can say, ‘Breathes there a man with a soul so dead...’.

May God bless you,

Posted by: TOM ILSLEY at October 19, 2005 11:28 PM

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