Sunday, November 27, 2022

MHSP and CMHP’s panel discussion calls for addressing mental health issues

Mental Health Support Group (MHSP) and Community Mental Health Program (CMHP), Prodigals’ Home Saturday organised a panel discussion at Conference Hall of the Deputy Commissioner (DC) Dimapur, to discuss the challenges around mental health.
A press release by CMHP Prodigals’ Home informed that the discussion on “Understanding Mental Health Issues – Naga Context” was held with SMO, DMHP, Dr. Temsuyanger (psychiatrist) and director, Shalom Rehabilitation Centre, Chumoukedima, Fr. Joe Mariadhas as the panellists.
In a keynote address, DC Dimapur, Sachin Jaiswal stressed on the importance of mental health and talking about the issues at various levels. He lamented on the fact that there was shortage of psychiatrists and mental health professionals in Nagaland and thereby many people are deprived of much needed services.
Jaiswal particularly pointed that students these days face much pressure to perform better and often leading them to mental health problems.
He said timely intervention related to mental health was very important and that timely intervention could help reduce the burden to a large extent.
Dr. Temsuyanger spoke specifically on misconceptions related to mental health disorder and cautioned the gathering not to fall prey to misconceptions.
Stating that treatment for mental illness works, he encouraged the people not to shy away from seeking help when the need arises. He said that many people confuse between acute and chronic mental illness, which he stated often lead to misunderstanding about the illness.
“Acute mental illness, as opposed to chronic, is short term and often the issue gets resolved even without medication or treatment. Chronic is when the mental illness prolongs for long and needs medical intervention besides psychological counselling and spiritual intervention,” said Dr. Temsuyanger.
Fr. Joe Mariadhas dwelled on the definition and importance of mental health, the concept of counselling, the role of counsellors, the role of churches in addressing the issue of mental health/illness and how one must be open minded when dealing with persons with mental illness, persons who are addicted to drugs and alcohol.
Highlighting that addiction to drugs and alcohol was a serious issue, Fr. Mariadhas also stressed that there are other kinds of addiction which the people need to introspect. He also stated that in one way or the other, all have mental health issues and thus stressed on the importance of seeking help just as one seeks help for physical issues.
Director of Prodigals’ Home, K. Ela shared about the concept, strategy, success and challenges of CMHP funded by Azim Premji Foundation since June 2020 and how the program has brought much awareness in the community whilst making the organization more aware and educated on the issue of mental health.
She shared how the program has positively impacted many families that had no solution in sight until they started their journey with CMHP.
In talking about the challenges, Ela stated that there was still so much stigma and misconception surrounding the issue related to mental illness and thus stressed that much more awareness, education and sensitization has to be created at all levels.
Observer of the panel discussion, acting secretary, DoYM, Western Sümi Baptist Akukuhou Küqhakulu (WSBAK), K. Nifato Chishi stated that Naga society has feminised mental illness and thus likened it to an illness that should not affect a male. This, he said was fuelling toxic masculinity and thereby stigmatising the illness further.
He also pointed out that the conflict of culture, vis-a-vis Naga culture and foreign culture was also creating havoc in the lives of youngsters. Sharing from personal experience, he said that one should never judge a person without understanding the underlying factors that makes the person behave as he/she does.
Chishi pointed out that the Church could do so much in addressing the issue of mental illness but owing mostly to ignorance, the issue was not addressed as it should.
The program was chaired by founder and director of Gracious Life Foundation, Lisali Humtsoe; invocation by Sr. Pastor, Chakhesang Baptist Church, Diphupar, Rev. Dr. Vezopa Tetseo and benediction by women leader, Lotha Baptist Church, Diphupar, Yanpvulo J. Ovung.
The MHSP, formed on October 10, 2022, comprised of district administration, Dimapur, office of the Commissioner of Police, Dimapur, District Legal Services Authority, Dimapur, Office of the district Welfare Officer, Dimapur, Central Jail, Dimapur, District Jail, Dimapur, District Mental Health Program, Dimapur, Officer of the DEO, Dimapur, Prodigals’ Home (NGO) and Gracious Life Foundation (NGO).

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