There is a very high prevalence of mental disorders among the tribes of Attappady. The problem has not been subjected to scientific study and analysis by any agency so far.
A comprehensive survey conducted in 2010 in 165 hamlets of Attappady had brought out the high number of mentally ill people in each hamlet.
The survey was inaugurated by Dr.P.R. Karunakaran District Medical Officer, Palakkad on 15th January 2010. The survey was conducted by about 60 Village Mental Health Volunteers.
There is a large number of wandering and neglected patients. The scenario is worsened by the emergence of new patients every year. Consumption of liquor, widespread use of Ganja, insecurities in the family, all seem to play major roles in promoting the emergence of these disorders among the tribes of Attappady. A large number of suicides are being reported in Attappady every month, especially from the tribal population. There has not been any scientific study regarding the size of the problem of mental illness or the reasons there of.
Community Mental Health Project in Attappady was started in March 2009.It was started by Swami Vivekananda Medical Mission with technical assistance from the Department of Psychiatry, Government Medical College, Thrissur. Though treatment of patients started in March, the project was formally inaugurated on 23rdNovember 2009 by reputed poet and social worker, Srimathi P.Sugathakumari.
There are more than 300 registered patients in the programme. These include patients with Severe Mental Disorders like Psychosis, Bipolar Disorder etc and Common Mental Disorders like Depression, Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder etc.
MEHAC (Mental Health and Action) trust, Kochi, has been a partner in the Community Mental Health Project since 2011 to provide quality mental health care to the community. Dr.Chitra Venkiteswaran and her team of social workers from MEHAC are visiting our hospital every month to conduct a psychiatric clinic. Patients needing expert psychiatric care are given treatment in this clinic.
Regular training programmes for Mental Health Volunteers and Village health Workers have been held since the inception of this programme. The workers have been trained about the symptoms of mental illness, the efficacy of treatment and regular medication. They have been motivated to provide support to patients and their families. The family members are also called for regular meetings in which they share their experiences and gain more insight into the treatment of mental illnesses. Awareness programmes for college students and high school students are also conducted every year as part of the CMHP.