Her mental health




FOR the past four months, Tehmina Akhtar (name changed), 28, a resident of district Baramulla, is undergoing treatment at Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in Rainawari, the lone psychiatric hospital of Kashmir. Sitting on a backless wooden bench placed against the wall, Tehmina, wearing a floral print frock, waits outside the doctor’s cabin.  Holding the hand of her brother, she hollers something and constantly gazes at the door of the cabin. Her pale face and sunken eyes with dark circles are an indication of her mental health. 
 Tehmina is one among a number of patients waiting on the same bench in the hospital. It is hot outside and the shade of the building provides respite to many patients like Tehmina who have come for treatment from far-flung areas. Next to the room is a big hall. A board hung above the wooden door reads in bold letters: ‘Outdoor Patient Department (OPD)’. Inside the ward, a number of female patients lie on the beds with their relatives around. A couple of doctors are on a routine check-up.
 In other building, there are almost five women patients admitted who suffer from serious mental disorders. The doctors have taken the responsibility to look after them till they achieve convalescence and start living a normal life.
 “We call it institution, not asylum, and that means they are admitted for care,” says Dr. Arshid Hussein, Assistant Professor in Department of Psychology. “Patients from all corners of Kashmir are admitted here and when they get better, we send them back to their homes.”
 Dr Rajesh Chandal, who is working as a Registrar in Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences since 2008, says females under the age group of 10-50 or more come for treatment in this hospital. Stress is the root cause of mental illness. Stresses of different forms can affect the mental health of a person. “Stresses do play a role. All forms of stresses in the form of school, examination, marriage, divorce and child birth give rise to depression and other mental disorders,” says Dr Rajesh.
 Most of the women who work at their work places for about 6-7 hours, and then also look after their families at home, are more prone to stress. “Females have to play different roles as they are a mother, wife, daughter, worker, and a colleague. Stress due to overwork can lead to mental disorders,” says Dr. Arshid.
 Afiya (name changed), 33, resident of Zakura, is working as a teacher in a semi government school. She says till 3pm she has to work at school and then do more household work. “One has to give 100 percent to students and in whatever condition I am, I have to teach them,” she says. “I have to do justice with my students.” At home, again, she has to work, finish household chores, teach her children and look after her family. She says she feels like a machine. Unable to maintain good health, she has consulted many doctors in the past. “My health was affected a lot due to burden of work. I went to number of doctors and they said it’s because of stress,” she says. “I work to support my family.”
 Depression rate among female folk is twice than that among males. Schizophrenia (produces loss of personality, confusion, and strange behavior), anxiety disorders (produces fear, distress or uneasiness), obsessive compulsive disorder (produces uneasiness, apprehension, fear or worry) and Bipolar disorder or manic depression (causes serious shifts in mood, energy, thinking and behavior) are common among females. Dr. Rajesh says sources of mental illness can be different, like genetic cause, where one or both parents are mentally ill and disease gets transmitted to their offspring; and environmental causes, when mother during pregnancy gets affected by some virus or by malnutrition.
 According to doctors, genetic, social and biological factors help in the evolution of mental disorders. “Mental illnesses can occur biologically. Males remain constant whereas women keep on changing every year, every month,” says Dr. Arshid. Child bearing, motherhood, menopause are some of the biological changes and hormonal changes that affect women. “Social factors such as poverty, domestic violence and genetic predisposal, however, are not the reasons but play a role in developing mental disorder in females,” adds Dr. Arshid.
 Some time back, a 65-year-old elderly woman from a far flung village was admitted in the hospital for schizophrenia. After showing some recovery, she was discharged from the hospital. Now she is again admitted in the hospital because she wasn’t able to continue medication at home, which again made her the victim of the disease. “Education is given to family about the disease of patient but sometimes patients can’t continue medication at home, so they come back and get admitted here again,” says Dr. Rajesh. “Family is informed and vocational training is given to them.” He says because of stigma people run away from mentally ill people due to which the illness progresses.
 Most of the people suffering from mental disorders harm themselves by inflicting cuts or attempting suicide. “Patient harming doctors or breaking things out of fear or in madness is a myth,” says Dr Arshid.
 “Our society still cares for women. This is the best thing. People don’t allow them to rot in the hospital,” he says. “Mentally ill people can be better treated in the community where people can normally talk to them and behave with them properly,” he says.

(Insha Latief is an Izhar Wani internee in Greater Kashmir)

Lastupdate on : Fri, 21 Jun 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 21 Jun 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 22 Jun 2013 00:00:00 IST

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Her mental health




FOR the past four months, Tehmina Akhtar (name changed), 28, a resident of district Baramulla, is undergoing treatment at Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in Rainawari, the lone psychiatric More

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