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.

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

Job Openings at SHANTMANAS

SHANTMANAS (SMIT) is a NGO dedicated to the service of Rural Mentally ill people. We are recruiting for the following positions.


Desired Qualifications: MSW (Masters in Social Welfare) with 2-3 yrs of exp and proficiency in English and computers.


Desired Qualifications: Preferably MSW / Psychology

Contact: S Buvaneswari or Dr. Candadai Vasudevan

email – or
Ph: 0452-2384542 (Madurai, TN, South India)

Overcome Stress – Mental Health

As you all know that the time to relax is when you don’t have time for it!!!

Would you like to be more focused in your work? Would you like to get
more accomplished? Would you like to feel more comfortable in your
relationship with others and with yourself? Then relax…

In a sense, most of us are aware of the need to relax, and have found
some ways to “relax”. The only problem is that many of the activities
that people consider to be relaxing are, in fact not relaxing at all.
Some relaxation is just pausing, a temporary escape from stress that
leaves us no more able to cope with stress positively. For example,
drinking coffee or alcohol, smoking and the like are socially approved
ways of relaxing, but it must be stressed that these are not effective
ways to relax.

Recent research has demonstrated the preventive power of relaxation. In
one study, people who relaxed daily for 20 minutes had a significantly
higher degree of physical and mental well being as compared to those who
did not relax.

The elements that characterize true relaxation are:

1. The heart rate slows and becomes even.
2. Breathing becomes deeper and more even.
3. Muscles loosen and relax.
4. The mind feels at peace.
5. The body has energy for at least several hours of work.
6. The entire body and mind feels refreshed.

People who relaxed daily for 20 minutes had a significantly higher
degree of physical and mental well being as compared to those who did
not relax.

Relaxation techniques can be used for different purposes. We can relax
to pause as well as to release tensions. We can increase our energy
level, dissipate a negative feeling or emotion, and even create a
positive mood. We can also use some methods to rest briefly in order to
gain temporary energy when we have not had enough sleep. Finally we can
use these methods to calmly handle tasks either at work or at home, to
cope positively to stress.

There are different techniques to suit the above needs.

Quick relaxation technique.
Breathing exercises
Guided imagery and visualization.
Progressive relaxation technique.
Nature tuning
One can practice the above relaxation exercises after learning them from
a competent instructor.

Benefits of relaxation:

Relaxation energizes the body and mind.
Relaxation helps to strengthen the immune system.
Relaxation lowers the blood pressure in many people and so decreases the
likelihood of stroke and heart attack.
Relaxation gives a break from things and lowers activity within the
limbic system of the brain, the emotional center.
Relaxation helps one to be creative.

For emotional problems, counselling is recommended. And the relaxation
exercises help to soothe and calm the mind and to overcome the negative
effects of emotional stress.

Here is a simple relaxation technique, which will take just a minute and
you can practise it wherever you are.

Breathe in through your nostrils to the count of three.
Breathe out through your mouth to the count of six.
Practise this about 5 times whenever you feel tensed or stressed.

A small practical tip from is:

Check yourself often. Don’t get obsessive about it, but throughout the
day, check to see if your muscles are as relaxed as they can be. Take a
deep, slow breath, and let go. Don’t take more than 30-60 seconds to do
this. With practice you can do it in 15 seconds.

Find out more on ShantManas Health Forum.

Mental Health

The Shant Manas (‘Peaceful Mind’) venture arises out of a deep commitment to the values of an holistic understanding of mental health issues in India.

Initially, the project will work in rural South India, where availability of mental health care is virtually non-existent and access to general health care is minimal.

The approach will promote Indian values. This means that the work and development will be based on a conceptual framework that values, acknowledges, and works from an Indian tradition and perspective.

SMIT will draw upon culturally sensitive local approaches and an Indian understanding of the human nature and condition. It will integrate appropriate insights from Western traditions and scholarship. The scope and scale of this is necessarily incompletely defined. However, it is envisaged that development will be based on natural evolution and growth.