Tamilarasan’s story

Tamilarasan, a 22 year-old-boy lives with his mom in Kamatchipuram village near Madurai. He lost his father seven years ago. His mom worked very hard in the agricultural field as a labourer to grow up Tamilarasan and his younger sister. He finished his schooling and he joined a college in Madurai for his higher studies. In the meantime, his sister quit her education and went on to work in a cotton mill to support her family.

Unfortunately, Tamilarasan developed mental illness three years ago after finishing his first year in the college. As a result, he discontinued his education. His family took him to many spiritual healers for treatment of his mental health condition. But his condition didn’t get better and his family spent a lot of money in faith healing. He became socially withdrawn and stopped interacting with others. He started to roam around even during night. He also stopped looking after himself. Sometimes he was aggressive towards his mom.

Tamilarasan’s mom had severe difficulties in managing him without any psychiatric help for the past three years. She and her daughter had to work hard to manage daily expenses of their family and to feed Tamilarasan.

Tamilarasan interacting with             Shant Manas Psychiatrist Dr.C.Vasudevan in his village

Shant Manas social workers identified Tamilarasan through mental health awareness programme in Kamatchipuram village. Mental health assessment was done to Tamilarasan by Shant Manas social workers at his home with involving his mom. Later, Shant Manas Psychiatrist visited Tamilarasan’s home and met him and his mom. He was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, a severe mental health disorder. A care plan was developed by Shant Manas team to treat Tamilarasan which included regular visits to his home, talking therapy, family intervention and medication. Tamilarasan has been taking treatment for the past three months with Shant Manas and he has started to respond which is a good news. Now he comes out of his home and interacts with his neighbours. He helps his mom in performing simple tasks at home. He attends Pablo’s group meeting at Shant Manas office regularly which gives him an opportunity to mix and interact with people who have similar mental health conditions. Hopefully, Tamilarasan’s mental health will get well soon and he will either continue his education or go for an employment. Credit must go to his mother and sister and his village community for supporting him when he was unwell.

Rekha – Shantmanas Service User

One of Shant Manas service user Mrs.Rekha w/o.Kameswaran

Rekha is a female aged 30, married, living in Achampathu village has one son aged 13 years living in our catchment areas has getting well from Chronic Schizophrenia after a lot of efforts taken by ShantManas. She married her maternal uncle. But unfortunately her husband, who was mentally ill 3 years ago is not willing to take treatment, is now relapsed severely and admitted in the care center.

Service-user-rekha-with-CVHe is an alcoholic and drug user. Rekha doesn’t even know how to manage herself. When her husband was with her he was suspecting her and not allowed her to open the doors and windows. All the time she was inside the small house. Now her insight is good, she is under anti-psychotic medicines. ShantManas is taking maximum efforts to rehabilitate Rekha by giving activities, motivating her to involve in the domestic work, encouraging her to improve her communication with the society.

Now ShantManas is trying to socialize her in all the aspects. Now her husband is in the care center, her son is in the school hostel and her younger brother is mentally challenged with psychosis is admitted in the care center. Her parents are not taking care of her. Only her brother-in-law who is living in the upstairs of her house is supporting her morally and financially.  Her grandpa cum father–in-law is living with her. ShantManas is monitoring her mental health treatment and helping her to get good mental health.

Shantmanas is supporting her by providing free medicines and offering moral supportive counseling. Her life was very miserable when she came to Shant Manas, but now she is well improved and has good self motivation. She is waiting for her son when he will come for his summer vacation. She always remembers her husband, she is missing her husband. She was tearful when she remembers her husband. However, ShantManas had a strong hope that she will recover with her life soon.

Finally, after a prolonged illness she started recovering with a hope to live with her family.Servicee user Rekha's home

ShantManas is playing a major role in supporting her with constant reviews & monitoring along with timely mediaction.

Gopi – Shantmanas Service User

The following is the life story of Gopi- one of Shant Manas’ service user:

Mr.Gopi, aged 35, has been living in Melamathur village, Madurai with his father and sisters and a brother. He lost his mother when he was a child. As his family was in poverty, he was not fortunate enough to do his schooling. Instead he started going to daily wage work as a responsible first child of the family. His financial contribution to his family helped to satisfy the basic needs of his siblings. As he was a hard working man, he could develop his skills and he could run a welding shop on his own at the age of 22. Then he got married and gifted with a baby girl.Kidugus made by Gopi

Life was going well to Gopi. Slowly his family and his friends noticed the change in his behaviour. The man who had been very friendly started isolating himself from others and started talking to himself and laughing to himself. His day-to-day activities were affected and he stopped going to work. Sometimes he behaved aggressively towards his family members. Apparently his wife left him with her daughter as she was unable to cope with his behavior.

Gopi with Dr CV

Gopi’s family did not have any clue of what was happening with him. As per their neighbours’ advice he was taken to many faith healers and finally he was kept in a Dharha, a place where people with mental health are kept traditionally. He was chained to a tree in Dharha as he was bit aggressive. His family decided to bring him back home from Dharha as his mental health condition did not improve. This was the time Shant Manas workers were doing ground work to identify people with mental health problems in villages. Gopi was identified by Shant Manas team.


Gopi’s mental health condition was assessed by a Psychiatrist and Community Mental Health Social Workers from ShantManas. He was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, a severe mental disorder which needs a long term treatment. He got anti-psychotic medicines, free of cost and a lot of support through home treatment. SM team involved his family members in the treatment by Psycho-education which played a significant role in his recovery. He was encouraged to talk and his stories were listened by SM workers. He responded well in few weeks time after receiving rehabilitation services from SM. He has been with SM home treatment services for the past 5 years. Now his self care has improved remarkably and he is capable of generating reasonable income by doing coconut weaving job at his home and he enjoys good relationship with his family and SM team. The view of the community and his own family towards Gopi has changed in recent years due to his recovery from illness. Gopi’s rehabilitation process continues and his life continues…

Gopi making Kidugu

When a person with mental health problems is treated with love, kindness and respect, he/she is no longer mentally ill.


Author: S A Vigneshwaran

Clinical Services Co-Ordinator

Shant Manas India Trust

Marathon Ran for a Cause

Mel at Colchester Half Marathon talking about fund raising for Shant Manas. This video of Mel Chase, a Community Psychiatric Nurse from Essex, England, talking about fund raising for ShantManas after completing the Colchester Half Marathon:

Mel raised £185 from her Half Marathon. This amount will help Shant Manas provide 4 months worth of essential psychiatric medication, free of costs, for its mental health service users in 8 poor rural communities near Madurai’, South India.

Warm greetings come to you from Shant Manas, Madurai, South India.

During the month of May, for perhaps a few hundred years, this ancient historic temple town which lies some 200 miles north of the southern tip of India, has been celebrating its annual religious festival. On these days carnival hordes of cheerful people can be seen milling around the town. Outside the spectacular temple of Meenakshi (google ‘Madurai Meenakshi Temple’) the queue snakes between seemingly endless metal barriers. Devotees patiently wait their turn to have a glimpse of Meenakshi, the residing deity, to profess their devotion and reaffirm their faith. People seem to be in a joyful and celebratory festive spirit.

community mental health by Shantmanas

Some 15 miles out of town in the normally sleepy little village of Kachirairuppu, however, all is not well in Pandi Meena’s mother’s home. Pandi Meena (PM) is a 21 yr old widow with a 7 month old baby boy. She sits forlorn, living in her inner world of grief, guilt, confusion, hopelessness & despair. Her own mother had to cut her down twice, in the course of a week recently, as the young PM attempted to hang herself in the house. The story, in a gist, is that PM has been tormented by ‘voices’ from the age of 14. A few years later she was diagnosed with schizophrenia but received sparse and sporadic treatment in the form of medication. Her illness got worse. Her parents believed that marriage might get her better. Her husband, in the event, turned out to be an irresponsible alcoholic who committed suicide just four months ago, leaving her destitute with her young baby. Tragedy struck again as her father also died suddenly (of natural cause) just three weeks later. She then moved in with her mother and a younger brother. Our social worker ‘discovered’ her while on a door-to-door survey of the village.

Shantmanas free mantal care
SM staff on home visit to service user family

In the West, a person with similar magnitude of problems as PM would very likely receive considerable help – beginning with hospitalisation and mobilisation of several specialist community teams looking to help her and her family, with such things like – child care, day care, finance, shelter, family support, monitoring, medication, counselling, etc.

Shant Manas mental health services
An elderly leprosy-affected blind lady with severe depression

However, in the isolated village of Kachirairuppu it is a very different reality. There are no such luxuries here except for the meagre resources of Shant Manas (SM). ‘Multi-tasking’ SM staff will try do their best for PM & her family, being creative & innovative, working in collaboration with ’significant’ others, neighbours, and the village community. They will offer daily home visits, supply free medication, monitor & manage risk, provide support, counselling and advocacy for the family. They will do this for as long as it takes (usually 6-9 months) to get PM well and safe so she could move on with her life. In this particular case, SM staff remain quietly confident of a reasonably positive outcome. And around these parts, with the work that we do, there are many such heart rending stories but most with good endings!

ShantManas Welfare agency for community
Assessing a young man at his home

Please visit website to know what we do for people affected by mental illness in some villages near Madurai, South India.

Newsletter Sep2011 – Warm Greetings from ShantManas Madurai

September is the month when millions of Hindus all over India commemorate and celebrate Lord Ganesha’s magnanimous capacity to ‘remove all obstacles’ in one’s path. Beautiful, colourful and sanctified clay figures of Ganesha, son of Shiva, of enormous sizes, decorated with fresh flowers and festoons, are installed in public locations, street corners and open grounds for people to worship and ask for HIS benevolence in removing any obstacles in their own lives.

HE must have been casting HIS long eye on ShantManas too!. We were worried when our very talented social worker, Vigneshwaran, left us recently to further his career elsewhere. But we needn’t have. SM found, in Arun Kumar, a promising and sincere new social work recruit.
Medical cover too had been faltering lately. Dr Ganga has had to move on. However an unexpected possibility of overcoming this obstacle has appeared, literally, as it were, out of thin air. A chance meeting on the 14th with a certain Dr Fenn, a local psychiatrist of good repute, has opened another door for us!. She has offered free home visitation (along with her own qualified nurse!) to see service users, atleast once a month.

Earlier in the week there was this one-day Seminar on ‘The role of the social worker in the Indian community’ for 97 MSW students all crammed into, and overflowing, the hall at SM designed for no more than 50! And then there was this lecture to be delivered at the Madurai School of Nursing on the ‘The essentials of holistic nursing’ for around 80 general nursing students!. Fear, trepidation and exhaustion was almost palpable in the presenter, but by Lord Ganesha’s Grace the lectures went well and the feedback was good!

There is no respite here really when Bhuvaneswari (senior social worker) is around and organising things for others! She would insist its only for the good of the community! The idea was to conduct a free ‘medical camp’ in a new village that SM had adopted recently. One lone doctor, with some ‘crowd control’ help from 2 social workers and 4 MSW’s acting as ‘usherettes’, managed to survive the challenge (felt more like ordeal!) of conducting physical examinations of some 80 odd people (including a couple of very young babies and several octogenarians), and prescribing whatever required, over a 6 hr period. Being thrown in the deep end – wait for it – with your feet tied together!!. Dont ask me how I survived the week of manic madness – some mysterious benevolent forces at work perhaps? Or do your bit and get out quick?!

SM’s presence is in 8 villages now with an estimated 30k population. All current users and past ones too are well and most are fruitfully occupied and coping ok.We have been received well in the new villages.
Our MSW student placement programme is also going well and continues to be rated highly by the students.

The distances traveled by our team has increased as new villages have been added on. Travel is mainly by ‘share -auto’ (3 wheeler scooter taxi), public buses, and by foot, especially when students accompany our staff. We would love to acquire a small used Indian van sitting 7 people (of course not the enormous ‘people carrier’ of the West) for the team’s transport purposes. Perhaps Lord Ganesha will show us the way in the future!!

The work that we try to do here is only made possible with the time, support and good will of the many ‘Friends of SM’ in the UK, the US, and India.
We are most grateful for all the generous help that we receive from all of you.
Please come and be our guests when you can!

Thank you very much.
May Lord Ganesha’s Blessings be with you – always.

Cahn Vasudevan & SM Team

Shantmanas Outcome

Seasons Greetings to all! Here’s a brief update from Shant Manas……

Dear Shant Manas (SM) Team

Shantmanas Meeting

As another good year comes to an end for SM, we have seen a modest growth in its work. Our catchment population has increased to around 35k as we prepare to take our work to new villages. The year had seen the arrival of a new social worker to bolster the team and ease the case load of others. We have had valuable assistance, in the form of teaching and training, from mental health practitioners (UK) who volunteered their time and service, free of cost, for SM! And we have had great support from other visitors too.

service users of Shantmanas

Our MSW student placement programme has seen another successful year. The interest amongst colleges to have their students placed with SM has grown with college Faculties grasping the tremendous opportunities to be had, for their students, in experiential and observational learning, especially in the areas of holistic mental and social health assessment, home treatment and rehabilitation. Another crucial factor for the attractiveness of this student placement programme has come from the positive feedback from previous students who had completed such placements with SM. These two factors combined have helped establish SM as a valuable PG student placement resource for several colleges affiliated to Madurai University. (Some interest in OT student placements from the UK too!).

Our service users , and their wider community, have also given positive feedback about the benefits that they have received from our free service through the year. (Mind, no suicides, no admissions, no incidents, and some are in paid work too!) We have been welcomed into new villages. This, I believe, is an open testament to the high regard and trust that the community holds for the work of SM. And that, in turn, is a true reflection of the wonderful professional commitment, dedication and hard work of the entire SM team. Congratulations to all of you.

A Service User with Chronic Leprosy

All this success, of course, does bring new challenges for us – as individuals and as an organisation. We need to continue to work hard in order to maintain the trust and confidence of the people whom we serve in the community. Our work load will increase as we take on new villages. Our students and Faculties have high expectations of us. A particularly big challenge remains on the funding front. SM is rich in commitment and strong in purpose. However, it needs to raise funds urgently to bolster its resources which, I am confident, we will in 2011.

You have always asked what you could do for SM, and not the other way around! Thank you very much. And special thanks to our supporters in UK too.

Looking forward to New Year 2011 to continue the good work.

Wishing you all good wishes & grateful appreciation,

Dr C Vasudevan

Chairman, SM