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Stigma still persists around mental illness

Saturday, 24 May 2014 - 8:12am IST | Place: Pune | Agency: dna

40% families apathetic toward schizophrenics at Yerwada hospital

Pune: Social apathy and family acceptance for schizophrenia patients, a mental ailment where a person loses touch with reality, is a major hinderance in the cure of the disease. According to doctors, the number of schizophrenia cases has increased in the city, but the social acceptability of the ailment has not changed. A disease which is likely to show up between 18 and 25 years of age, makes patients spend most of their lives in its shadow.
Vilas Bhailume, medical superintendent at Yerawada Mental Hospital, says that more than 3,000 patients visit them every month, of which around 90 per cent are schizophrenics. However, half of the families refuse to take these patients home. Emotional neglect and lack of precautions of medication from the family result in a renewed schizophrenic attack. “About 40 per cent of our patients come back within a month of their discharge,” says Bhaimule.
Swapnil Deshmukh, psychiatrist at Joshi Hospital says, “Families are unaware of how to handle patients in case of a schizophrenic attack. They are afraid of taking him home after treatment in the hospital.” However, contrary to the beliefs, schizophrenics can easily become a part of the mainstream society. They are perfectly capable of handling their day-to-day responsibilities, provided that people around them show confidence in them.
Dr Vidyadhar Watwe, a city-based psychiatrist says, “Schizophrenia occurs due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. The patients need to be assisted in their daily activities. Under some supervision, they can lead absolutely normal lives. Continued medication can help treat schizophrenia and stabilise the patient.”
According to Amrit Bakhshy, president of Schizophrenia Awareness Association, the patients need to live with their families and in the society for complete rehabilitation. “Social ostracism or segregation increases the stigma attached with schizophrenia. The chances of the patient recovering in a hospital a far less than if he is living with his family,” he adds.

Symptoms of Schizophrenia:
Bouts of anger 
Disinterest in relationships and socializing
Increase in emotional instability
Inability to differentiate between reality and imagination 
Hearing voices in the head
Stats from Regional mental hospital, Yerawada OPD (On an average)
3000 mentally ill patients monthly
2700 of them are schizophrenics (existing patients or new)
2000 of them stabilize with medication
1200 of the families refuse to take patients home

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