Basic Needs India: Promoting Mental Health and Development


Basic Needs India

Often a government facility is the most common, affordable and only source of care for persons living with a mental illness.  However, due to inadequate mental health infrastructure, the distance people have to travel for treatment, the non-integration of mental health care into general health care, pervasive stigma, the alternative care provided by faith/traditional healers and the low income levels — most persons living with a mental illness remain untreated, forgotten and invisible. Basic Needs India works to bridge the gap between the government and community by generating community demand for public health services provided through the National Mental Health Program, strengthening community mental health services and building likages with government health/allied agencies

Approach: BNI identifies well-established Community-based Organizations (CBOs) in the development sector who are keen to work with persons living with a mental illness and offers technical support, including field monitoring. Working in partnership with these CBOs, BNI facilitates appropriate orientation and capacity building processes with different stakeholders groups. Field-level support is provided regularly to ensure effective program implementation. As the program matures, the stakeholder groups are actively involved in addressing their entitlements and rights issues with the public provider system and in the community. BNI’s role is therefore that of a resource organization that works with partner agencies to ensure service provision, social inclusion, livelihood options and the right to equal opportunities for persons living with mental illness and their families.


Projects with MHI

“Strengthening Community-Based Integrative Care of Persons with Mental Illness and their Families” in Odisha and Maharashtra”

MHI will fund BNI’s Community Mental Health and Development Programme from 2018 to 2021 spanning five districts across Mumbai and Odisha — with a focus on strengthening community-based integrative care of persons with mental Illness and their families. BNI will implement a sustainable Community Mental Health and Development program in collaboration with partner organisations, strengthening the community and public health system. Through the program identified persons living with a mental illness will have access to Government-provided Mental Health Care and will be reintegrated with their families and community. BNI will also work to enhance community awareness and strengthen community support systems, through training programs for partner organizations, mental health volunteers, alternate service providers and public health para-professionals. The organization will offer psychoeducation to families, build community awareness, as well as promote family support groups to demand for government services and entitlements from available schemes. BNI will also link with disability and health movements at the local and State level, sensitize media, police and judiciary on destigmatization. Key program interventions include:

  • Community Mental Health: Through BNI, partner organizations will receive training to design and implement mental health care programs at the community-level. Such programs include OPDs and health camps for treatment, home visits and family/community-level meetings. Local Government doctors are trained in basic psychiatry so that services are available. Self-help/support Groups comprising people living with mental illness and carers are formed and trained.
  • Capacity Building: BNI builds capabilities among a range of people – people living with a mental illness, family members, carers, partner staff members, health personnel and self-help group members. Communities, faith healers, members of local governance and related government authorities are sensitized to deliver comprehensive support to the lives of persons living with a mental illness — by adequately addressing mental health issues in various spheres. Staff members of partner organizations are continuously trained in and supported to implement the Community Mental Health Development model. The training equips them with skills to bring affected people together and to address issues both within and outside communities.
  • Sustainable Livelihood: BNI believes that poverty and social inequality have direct and indirect effects on the outcome and cause of mental illness. Thus, involving people living with mental illness and family members in economically viable activities is a crucial step. The program addresses the central issues of sustainable livelihood and poverty alleviation. Ensuring gainful occupation is an essential part of a process that enhances confidence and facilitates integration into family, community and society. Economic development programs suitable for the individual and family members are designed. Partners are trained in identifying local resources and economic opportunities. Necessary links are made with micro finance organizations/groups and with locally-based employment schemes run by the government — thus enabling persons living with mental illness and their family members to get involved in economically viable activities, including returning to their earlier occupations.

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