Towards Available, Accessible and Affordable Care
"Good mental health service doesn't require expensive technologies, but human ones," says Bendetto Saraceno of the World Health Organization. Although we have travelled far since the days when it was routine for people with mental illness to be kept under lock and key, we still have a distance to go before creating an inclusive society for people with mental illness. Even today, the ill are often ridiculed through insensitive comments and portrayed as "dangerous maniacs" or provide comic relief in films. This is not acceptable.
Mental health is a complicated sector. It is closely linked with the socio-cultural and educational background of patients. The high cost of psychiatric treatment, coupled with ignorance and lack of accessibility to qualified mental health professionals means that such individuals are often abandoned by their own families. Our cover story seeks to capture some of the complexities in this area. The efforts of the Madurai-based M.S. Chellamuthu Trust and Research Foundation show that it is possible to make a BIG difference in the lives of people with mental disabilities through their focus on care and rehabilitation, research, awareness generation, and community outreach in rural areas. We need a coming together of the community to make a tangible difference in the lives of those with mental disabilities.
Most importantly, we need to remember that people with mental illnesses are people first; not mere statistics or numbers.