Number of homeless and mentally unstable people increasing in Dimapur
Dimapur, Sep. 17 (EMN): Expressing concern over the increasing number of homeless and mentally unstable people on the streets of Dimapur, especially at the railway station, Dr. Temsuyanger, senior medical officer, psychiatrist, District Mental Health Programme (DMHP) Dimapur, said the station is becoming a ‘dumping ground’ for people who have lost their parents, main from other states.
While stating that relatives, who do not want to take care of their kin, just drop them at the station, he suggested the Social Welfare department to open a shelter home for the destitute.
The senior psychiatrist was addressing a training and sensitisation programme on Mental Health Care Act and issues on Saturday, which was jointly organised by the office of the Deputy Commissioner Dimapur in collaboration with the Dimapur district legal services authority and Prodigals Home at Chapel Hall, DHD.
“If the number continues to increase, it will become out of control. The Missionaries of Charity in Dimapur, which shelters the destitute, has a good number of destitute and mentally unstable people under their shelter. But how much can they shelter with the increase in number?” he asked.
No anaesthetist to operate ECT
Meanwhile, the medical officer revealed that Nagaland has only seven government-appointed psychiatrists with two of them at the Kohima Directorate office.
He also said that the District Hospital Dimapur (DHD) has not utilised the Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) so far because of the absence of an anaesthetist.
The SMO elucidated that the reason for the absence of an ECT anaesthetist at DHD was because of the lack of experienced doctors who have worked with a modified ECT; the institution that an anaesthetist has studied and whether they have used ECT are also taken into consideration as it could be dangerous to have an inexperienced anaesthetist, he said.
The Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC), Dimapur, Mhalo Humtsoe pointed out that people in Nagaland have not seriously pondered on the issue of mental health and failed to collect enough data. She said about 80% affected by mental issues do not seek help because of stigmatisation.
According to the ADC, the main reasons for mental health issues in Nagaland are substance abuse, excessive use of social media and internet, too much pressure on children by their parents to excel in academics and to bring laurels through government jobs.
She said programmes on mental health issues were long overdue and assured cooperation towards such events, while pointing out that there is a need for multi-stakeholders’ involvement to tackle the challenges.
Mental Health Care Act, 2017
Judicial Magistrate Dimapur, Holika Sukhalu, said that the Mental Health Care Act 2017 aims at providing mental healthcare services for persons with mental illness and also ensures that these persons have a right to live with dignity by not being discriminated against or harassed.
Mental illness, according to the Act, is a substantial disorder of thinking, mood, perception, orientation or memory that grossly impairs judgement, behaviour, capacity to recognise reality or ability to meet the ordinary demands of life, mental conditions associated with the abuse of alcohol and drugs but does not include mental retardation, she explained.
On the discharge of a person with mental illness, she said, it should be made in consultation with the nominated representative or caregiver; discharge plan to be prepared by the psychiatrist-treatment, service or care to be provided and duration; copy of plan to be provided to the patient, caregiver, family or relative; and in case of discharge against medical advice, a copy of the discharge plan will still have to be given to the patient.
Duties of police officers
The Act, she said, warrants taking under police officer’s protection any person who is found loitering, whom the officer believes to be mentally ill or risk to him or her and others.
The officer in-charge of a police station should inform the person who has been taken into protection; take the person to the nearest public health establishment as soon as possible but not later than 24 hours from the time of being taken into protection, for assessment of the person’s healthcare needs and after assessment by the medical officer, should take the person to their residence.
If there is a person with mental illness at a private residence, police should report the fact to the magistrate or any person can report it to the officer-in charge of the police station and magistrate may ask the person to be produced before him or her and pass an order.
Prisoners with mental illness
Sukhalu elucidated that the jail authority should inform the magistrate and the medical officer of the prison should send quarterly reports to the concerned board certifying that there are no prisoners with mental illness. Medical officers of mental health establishments, who have been referred, should once in six-months make special reports to the authority and most importantly, the government should set up mental health establishments in the medical wing for at least one person in each state/UT, she added.
She also pointed out that the public is in denial about the existence of mental illness and “we unintentionally disregard a person’s need”.