This past week, MINDS began work on our Live, Love, Laugh collaboration in school programming.We have been putting together and editing English and Gujarati presentational Powerpoints geared towards both primary and secondary school children. In these presentations MINDS staff and GROW interns will present specifically on the stigma and treatments surrounding anxiety, stress, and depression.
Anxiety, stress, and depression are relevant to school children due to pressures of school work, hormonal changes, and growing expectations. 6-7% (70 million) of India’s population suffers from mental health concerns, and India has the highest rate of youth suicides. These are facts that cannot be ignored, and that is why MINDS aims to present to as many urban and rural Gujarati schools as possible.
On Monday we went by three urban, English schools to ask permission from their principals to give presentations. The presentations usually last around 45 minutes, and we have made them both interactive and visually stimulating for the children. We will also give pre and post assessments to gage the success of the program and the information gained by the school children. Two of the three schools were extremely receptive to our ask. They understood our mission and the need to present this important information. We should have presentations set up with these two schools within a week or two.
On Tuesday and Wednesday we went to five rural, Gujarati primary and secondary schools in the Waghodiya Taluka to ask their principals’ permission to give Gujarati presentations. The Gujarati presentation is exactly the same as the English presentation, just in Gujarati. All five schools granted their permission, and one school wants us to come back and give a demo presentation before setting up a full one.
Like the urban schools, we will be scheduling the rural school programs in the next two weeks, so MINDS staff will be extremely busy for the next few weeks giving presentations!
The MINDS office is looking a little different during this year’s monsoon season! It is bustling with all sorts of new faces and activity.
Vasundhara, longtime staff member and social worker with us, has taken on a bigger role as Program Director. This summer, she successfully transitioned MINDS through our new partnership with the Live, Love, Laugh Foundation. We would also like to introduce a new MINDS staff and social worker, Chintan! Chintan is already doing great work in the field with his persistent and friendly attitude.
There are also three different groups of university students interning for the foundation. One, is the University of Washington GlobeMed’s GROW team from Seattle, Washington! They have been partnered with MINDS for 3 years now, and send a group of four interns each summer to build a relationship and do any needed work. This summer the interns will be setting up and giving presentations to English primary and secondary schools on anxiety, stress, and depression.
Two MPH students from Mt. Sinai are working with MINDS to conduct research on mental health awareness within the anganwadi and asha working communities! These two interns will collect 100 survey samples from both urban and rural areas, so they have a lot of work to do this summer. Finally, there are two new, year-long interns from Parul University. They are both working on a bachelor’s degree in social work. They are already an incredible asset to the MINDS team! This large, new team is already hard at work on a few different projects. Stay tuned for more to come!
The Hospital for Mental Health, Vadodara is located in Karelibaug
The mental health hospital is bustling with activity. The main hall is usually filled with patients, social workers, staff members, and physicians. The new buildings and renovations have created a peaceful atmosphere. During our visit, the facility was clean and I saw peacocks roaming the garden and monkeys were drinking water from clay pots and climbing trees. The hospital has space for patients to walk, sit under shady trees, and observe nature. The hospital has made it a point to treat psychiatric patients with dignity and respect. In the last decade quality standards have been raised to ensure patients receive ethical treatment and care.
In order to keep patients active and engaged, the hospital has an occupational therapy unit which helps keep patients busy with meaningful and creative work. The activity center had rows of sewing machines, carpentry tools, and space to work. The patients at the hospital make their own uniforms, the men wear blue cotton trousers and checkered cotton shirts. The women wear gowns or light orange salwar suits. Sometimes the mental hospital receives orders from other medical institutions for clothing, pillow covers, aprons, mattresses etc. and the patients take part in making each item. In addition, the unit also produces files, broomsticks, and mattresses, sometimes even rakhis!
In addition, patients take part in daily activities in the arts. They draw, color, put on small skits, and play musical instruments. Patients display their artwork, stories, and poems around the activity center. The hospital also has yoga classes for patients and encourages them to participate in physical activity.
The hospital also has “De-addiction ward” which mainly focuses on tobacco cessation and alcoholism. Other substances are not too prevalent in Gujarat so the hospital focuses mainly on these two issues.
MINDS Foundation currently hiring staff for its field program for Community mental health awareness and school mental health education program. The positions are entry level position and involved extensive field travelling. Therefore male are preferred to apply. Following are the details of current openings.
MINDS went to the village of Madheli to conduct a Mental Health Community Awareness Program. In the center of the village there is a large banyan tree and next to this tree there is a peaceful lake. This area provides a shady and serene place for villages to gather and relax.We conducted the program outside the village temple, next to the dairy.
This is where villagers come to get their milk and also deposit milk for payment (the fattier the milk, the more money you get). The dairy culture of India fuels economic activity in many rural villages. It was obvious which families were more prosperous, they were grouped on one side of the village- closer in proximity to the temple and dairy- and had bigger homes and more land. Diary is a staple in the Indian diet, as a result animal husbandry is a common occupation.
The presentation attracted the interest of the village children. Two children volunteered (with the condition that we pay them 10 rupees each!) to hold down our screen so it would not move with the wind. The children gathered around the set-up and asked many questions. We encouraged their curiosity because children are often a gateway into a community. They can take the knowledge they receive back to their parents and it will hopefully stay with them into adolescence and adulthood. We chose this location due to the close proximity to the dairy. Each evening villagers frequent this area for their milk ration. Several community members mentioned that they know of someone who exhibited symptoms related to mental and neurological illness. One laborer from Rajasthan told us that he knew of a person who suffered from seizures and that when he goes back to his hometown, he will pass along the information and tell that person to go to the hospital.
Last week MINDS staff visited patients in four villages (Khandia,Malu,Hareshwar, &Bhadarpur) to check in on their overall health and invite them to the patient camp atGotriHospital. The purpose of this “patient campaign” is to follow-up with these individuals and their families to assess the status of their condition/illness and general livelihood (Staff traveled an average total distance of 165 km). The staff counseled some patients on the importance of working for a wage. It is helpful for individuals suffering from conditions such as epilepsy to gain skills and engage in some sort of work ( such as sewing & alterations, assiting a shopkeeper in a store, etc) to ensure their financial independence and health in the future once their caretaker has passed away. The following day, several patients came toGotriHospital for their follow-up medical visit with the physician and to receive medication. Every patient did not come to the patient camp, those who did not come will be contacted by a MINDS staff member and be delivered a restock of their medication at their home. The rural population faces significant barriers accessing medical services. Psychiatric and neurological illnesses require specialized care. There is a dearth of trained health care professionals practicing in rural areas, especially in the field of mental health. Villagers live on average 75-80 km ( one way) from the nearest government hospital and must utilize various methods for travel, including walking a significant distance in the summer heat [ temperatures in May- June 2016 have regularly reached around 110 F -113 F (40-45 C)]. Often a patient and their family must take off work and lose a full day’s wage to travel to the hospital. Many cannot afford this luxury and as a result their health suffers. Regular contact between MINDS staff and patients helps mediate issues such as a lack of medication and allows patients and their families to voice concerns.
*Photos-[MINDS staff members speak to a young patient’s mother. The mother was working in the field with her older daughter. She informed staff of a young man in the village suffering from seizures, the MINDS staff instructed her to inform him and his family to come to the patient camp at Gotri Hospital. The next day the young man ( 22 years) visited the Doctor with his wife and young son and received a diagnosis and appropriate medication to treat his illness.]
On May 24th, 2016, the MINDS foundation held a community education and awareness presentation in the village of Madodhar, which is located in Waghodiya, District of Vadodara, Gujarat. The staff presented a culturally relevant and appropriate short film explaining Mansik Arogya (mental health). After the film, MINDS staff explained the services the foundation provides and answered questions. Around 120 community members came to view the film and watch the presentation.
The presentation began at 7:30 pm and was held in a centrally located area in the village near the temple. Before the presentation, MINDS staff as well as two community leaders went door-to-door inviting community members to attend the event. The staff was welcomed in to the home of several kind and hospitable community members to have a cold soda and a seat to take a short rest. During the presentation, MINDS staff handed out pamphlets detailing signs, symptoms and treatment options relating to mental and neurological illness.
The purpose of the community awareness program is to educate the public on the full spectrum of mental health, address and combat stigma, provide information regarding treatment options, as well as assist anyone who needs further help and guidance.