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.
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’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…
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