Mentally ill people in eastern districts deprived of treatmentThe families complain that they have not gotten any support from the government in the treatment of their loved ones.
Roshan Dhungel was just six when his family tethered him to the house after he showed signs of mental illness. Dhungel, a resident of Arjundhara Municipality-1 in Jhapa district, spent about two decades in chains.He was freed from the iron chain last month with the help of Mechi Abhiyan’, a campaign initiated by Kaushal Bhandari.
The campaign not only freed Dhungel but also got him treated at the BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences in Dharan.
“My son was seriously ill at the age of two. Later he became mentally unstable and lost his speech. We had no alternative but to tie him up as he totally lost his mental balance,” said Dhungel’s father Durga Prasad. He is now happy that his son has been freed and treated, albeit late.
“I regret taking my son to local shamans instead of health institutions for treatment. His health condition further deteriorated due to a lack of timely treatment,” said Durga Prasad.
Nine-year-old Aakash Chaudhary of Arjundhara-5 suffered from a similar ordeal. Mentally ill Chaudhary had been confined to a room for the past two years. Bhandari’s team rescued the nine-year-old on March 3 and made arrangements for his treatment.
“If we had not found out about his confinement, Chaudhary would have been chained for several years like Dhungel,” said Bhandari, adding that the Mechi Campaign has been actively working to rescue mentally ill people who are chained inhumanly and deprived of proper treatment.
Saroj Kambang Limbu, 19, of Phaktanglung Rural Municipality-4 in Taplejung district too has been chained to his room for the past year. After Limbu fell ill last year, his family took their ailing son to hospitals in Jhapa and Siliguri in India for treatment.
“We spent around Rs 500,000 for his treatment. He had gotten better during the course of treatment but he relapsed again on his way home,” said Limbu’s father Phiparaj. “We have no money left for his treatment.”
According to Limbu’s family, all members have to go to the farmland for work during the day so they have no alternative but to tie him with a chain.
“Whose mother can be happy tying her son with a chain?” said Gaumaya, Limbu’s mother.
In Panchthar district, 29-year-old mentally ill Radha Rai has been confined to a room for the past 12 years. She cannot walk properly and shouts and breaks into tears upon seeing other people.
“We had to confine her inside a room after she started beating others. She fell ill 13 years ago,” said Radha’s sister-in-law Lila Rai. She said that the family could not provide her medical treatment due to financial constraints. “We have heard that there are some organisations that help the mentally ill get treatment. But they are not in our contact.”
Roshan, Aakash, Saroj and Radha are to name a few mentally disadvantaged people who are deprived of treatment. They are either chained or confined at homes as their impoverished families are unable to manage expenses for their treatment.
The families complain that they have not gotten any support from the government in the treatment of their loved ones.
Meanwhile, Dr Roshan Pokharel, a senior psychiatrist and secretary at the federal Ministry of Health and Population, claims that the government has provisions for primary treatment of people suffering from depression and mental illness at the district hospital and medical colleges.
(Aananda Gautam in Taplejung, Laxmi Gautam in Panchthar and Biplab Bhattarai in Ilam contributed reporting.)