April 19, 2005

Interview with India Psych Director

Interview with India Psychiatric Facility Director

We (at schizophrenia.com) know of relatively few psychiatric resources in some international countries such as India. Likewise, although stigma everywhere is at least partially caused by miseducation and misunderstanding, the problem has been identified as particularly salient in international communities with little infrastructure for mental health services. In light of this, the following interview with the director of the Central Institute for Psychiatry in India gives an interesting perspective on what facilities exist today, what needs to be improved in future, and how social stigma in his country differs from attitudes in the west.

An excerpt is posted below - please visit the link at the bottom for the full article.

Q: The CIP [central institute for psychiatry] has been recognised by the Union government as a centre of excellence. What has your contribution been in the four years that you have been its director?

You do not need be the head of an institution to make a contribution. I have been here for 26 years and contributed in whatever I could. I have worked at the most basic level and, therefore, understand its problems. Since I took over as director, my work has been to ensure that the institution has the best technology at its disposal. Right now, we have the most modern machines required for analysing psychiatric cases and research.

Q: In terms of infrastructure, where does the CIP need to improve?

The CIP is spread over 400 acres and has a bed capacity of 673. There are 16 wards, nine for men and six for women. One unit is for families. There is adequate space between the wards considering privacy plays an important role in mental treatment. The mode of treatment is based on the premise that adequate space needs to be given to a patient to heal. It may be worth noting that unlike other mental hospitals, CIP, Ranchi has never adopted a custodial attitude towards its patients. We plan to build a new library building. We have reserved Rs 8 crore [one crore is equal to about 10 million rupees, or around $US 500,000 @ 45 rupees to the US$] for construction of new buildings and Rs 10 crore for purchase of new machines.

Q: From your long experience, can you tell us something about social attitudes to mental illness? How different is it from attitudes in the West?

It saddens me that mental illness is still considered disgraceful. The basic problem is that people tend to hide illness. We recently conducted a survey in Namkum block and found that 94 per cent of patients of mental ailments, primarily epilepsy and psychosis, did not turn up for treatment. This figure is around 40 per cent in Europe, which is no good either. Social stigma continues to cost psychiatric science dear.

The situation has improved in urban localities. Earlier, if we would get 10 cases in a month, all of them had to be admitted to the hospital. Now, if we get a hundred cases in a month, only three have to be admitted, which suggests that families are responding faster to mentally ill members.

Source article: "Wanted: A fight against stigma" in The Telegraph (Calcutta, India)


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