Campbell’s group

Shant Manas service users visit Kuruvithurai temple with Shant Manas Social workers
Shant Manas service users and social workers at Anaippati

Shant Manas Service users and Social workers visited Kuruvithurai and Anaipatti temple located near Solavanthan. More than 20 service users participated in the group tour. Service users found this trip relaxing and enjoyable as they have limited access to move out of their villages. Service users mixed with others well and supported each other. Shant Manas decided to take service users for outing once in 2 months. This group is supported by Mr. John Campbell. So it is called as ‘Campbell’s group’.

Pablo’s Group


Service users participating in group activities in the Pablo’s group


Pablo’s group meets at Shant Manas office once in every three weeks.  Pablo’s Group is a meeting for service users and their care takers . It is focused on boosting the self-confidence and social skills of service users. Twenty people participated in this week’s group meeting. The service users were assisted by Shant Manas Social workers and Social work student volunteers.  The service users participated in the group activities which created situations to mix with others. They did simple yoga postures and breathing exercises. All of them sang and few danced at the end of the meeting.  They expressed their willingness to attend the meeting regularly and to continue supporting each other for their well-being.

Mental Health Awareness Program


Shant Manas Social worker Bhuvaneswari addressing villagers with her mental health talk


Shant Manas social workers conducted Mental Awareness Programs to the villagers of Keelamathur, Achampathu, Kamatchipuram and Melakkal. The access to mental health care is limited and stigma is attached to mental illness in rural areas.  These mental health programs aimed to deliver information about symptoms and treatment methods of mental illness.  The importance of early detection and family support in the recovery from mental illness was stressed.  The villagers eagerly participated in the awareness program. Shant Manas social workers identified few new cases of mental illness as they conducted these mental health awareness programs.


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.

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

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.