Richmond Fellowship India
Richmond Fellowship Society India (RFSI) is part of the world wide Richmond Fellowship founded in 1959, the world’s largest network of mental health service providers. Each organisation has a legal status bound by the country where it operates. Founded in 1986 in Bangalore, RFSI plays a leading role in mental health care and psychosocial rehabilitation of persons with chronic mental illness.
Mental Illness places the greatest burden on the family yet it is remains a less visible disability. Mental Health services are almost non existent in rural India where 70% of the population lives. A study by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurological Sciences (NIMHANS) indicates that only 26 out of the 600 districts in India have a Government District Mental Health Programme.
RFSI has addressed this gap by developing community mental health services, in the area of rehabilitation. Thier main objectives are to integrate the mentally ill back into the family and society and provide manpower development in the area of Psychosocial Rehabilitation.
Pragathi Project – Rural Community Mental Health Care Project in Karnataka
Based in Kolar District Pragathi is a community based mental health project designed to meet the mental health needs of the poorest and most marginalized rural communities in Karnataka. The project covers 75 villages with a population of 150,000.
The project runs the Pragathi rural mental health camp whose catchment area includes villages in Andhra Pradesh. This free service reaches 400 – 500 people suffering from mental health problems attend the clinic each month.
At the monthly camp, 60 % of patients suffer from Epilepsy. This supports the findings of the WHO report, highlighting that epilepsy and hysteria are significantly more common in rural communities. Pragathi has now separated Epilepsy patients due to the high demand for the service.
The project was initially run by full-time voluntary staff. As demand for the service increased, additional staff has been employed, including a psychiatrist and social worker. RFSI provides free consultation and medication services with the support of its dedicated team of professionals and students who do work placements at the rural centre.
A major hurdle faced by the service has been follow up and ensuring compliance of regular medication. To address this RFSI works through a cadre of community workers who track drop outs and assess the difficulties that may cause this. A new dimension to the work has been to link up with faith healers and examine options of holistic healing. People with mental health problems tend to visit a neighbouring Dargha on a full moon and new moon day. Staff at Pragathi work in partnership with Government psychiatrist to provide consultation and treatment to patients attending the Dargha.
Proposed Day Care Centre
The proposed day care centre aims to reintegrate patients back into the community. Mental health problems are more prevalent in persons aged 20-45, which is also the most economically productive age group. Therefore the Centre seeks to provide skills training linked to agriculture based occupations such as sericulture, horticulture and floriculture which are income generating and sustainable.
RFSI wants to build a purpose-build day centre to be the focal point for coordinating rehabilitation, community care services and education programs for patients and the community as a whole. The project requires funds for building 7 offices, 3 sheds for agricultural and related activities, a compound wall, security wall, bore-well and motor for water supply.