Holistic approach to mental health, improving the emotional and social wellbeing of individuals and society, focusing on the ‘Wholeness of Man’ and ‘Wholeness of Society’, and the challenges ahead.
We endeavor towards ‘recovery’ oriented rehabilitation aiming at full integration of persons with severe and chronic mental disorders into the main stream. ‘Rehabilitation, Re-socialization, Resettlement’ will continue to be the motto.
Providing creative solutions in the management of psycho-social disabilities and professional interventions for persons with problems.
Addressing mental health issues in the community, to promote public awareness and to reduce stigma.
A vision for the Medico Pastoral Association (MPA) as it turns 50 years
Mohan Isaac, President,
Medico-Pastoral Association 2014 is a significant year for the Medico Pastoral Association (MPA), Bangalore. It was 50 years ago, in 1964 that a small group of individuals including some doctors, social workers and clergy men concerned about the emotional and social well-being of individuals as well as the society at large in Bangalore came together under the Urban Industrial Mission of the St Mark’s Cathedral in Bangalore. Their concerns, efforts and activities steadily contributed to the birth of the first non-governmental organization (NGO) in the field of adult mental health in India – the Medico Pastoral Association (MPA). During the past fifty years, the organization has pioneered and spearheaded numerous activities and innovative programmes on mental health, most of them, for the first time in the country. These include the starting of an Alcoholics Anonymous group, a Suicide Prevention programme which included the training of Lay Volunteers, starting of the first Half-Way-Home and later, a Quarter-Way-Home (Hostel) for residential rehabilitation of persons recovering from serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar affective disorders, a telephone helpline run by trained volunteers to help persons in distress (SAHAI), mental health educational and awareness programmes in schools and colleges in Bangalore, psycho-educational programmes for family members and care providers of persons with chronic and severe mental disorders and observance of important days in the mental health calendar (such as World Mental Health Day, World Suicide Prevention Day etc.) aimed at public awareness and stigma reduction. As Medico Pastoral Association and its idea of improving the emotional and social well-being of individuals and society moves forward beyond 50 years, to its sixth decade of existence, it is imperative to think of the challenges ahead and re-look at its vision. Although various aspects of mental health care has steadily improved in India during the past few decades, the overall situation for persons with severe and chronic mental disorders and their families has changed very little. With globalization and the rapid social changes that are taking place in the country including changes to the traditional Indian family structure, the plight of persons with long standing mental disorders has become perhaps worse. Improved knowledge about mental disorders has not resulted in any noticeable reduction of stigma or discrimination against persons who suffer from these disorders. Social exclusion of persons with mental disorders, at all levels – at home, educational institutions, work, in all social activities – continue to be a serious problem. Therefore MPA will continue to work towards “recovery” oriented rehabilitation aiming at full integration of persons with mental disorders into the mainstream of everyday life. “Recovery oriented Rehabilitation, Re-socialization and Resettlement” will continue to be MPA’s motto. MPA will actively advocate for the needs and rights of persons with mental disorders and mental disorder related disabilities.
Past several years of active liaison with families and significant care providers of those whom MPA cared for resulted in the publication and dissemination of “What after me”. In response to some of the frequently asked questions highlighted in “What after me”, MPA has developed the “Long Supported Care” project, to extend and expand certain aspects of its existing services. Successful operationalization of this project will be of utmost priority for MPA during the coming years.
The recent publication by the National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB) of suicide trends in the country during the year 2013 shows that although Bangalore is not leading the cities in the country in number of completed suicides at the number 1 position, it is not very much behind. Strengthening of the suicide prevention helpline, providing assistance to those in acute emotional crisis and initiating / participating in in urban mental wellness promotion programmes will be high on MPA’s list of priorities.
Efforts to enhance the mental health literacy of the community and reduction of stigma towards mental disorders through variety of educational and awareness building programmes aimed at the general population as well as special populations such as school and college children will continue.