- Dr. Bharat Vatwani is supporting mentally ill patients and helping them reunite with their families.
- He established “Shraddha Rehabilitation Foundation” to rehabilitate wandering mentally ill people.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (Nimhans) report, 15% of Indian adults experience some form of mental health problems and 80% of government hospitals in the country don’t have a certified psychiatrist. The report showed that the nation has less than 4000 practicing psychiatrists for over a billion people.
In 1988, Dr. Bharat Vatwani, a 61-year-old Mumbai-based psychiatrist, took a revolutionary initiative to treat the mentally ill people left to wander in the streets. With the help of his wife, he established “Shraddha Rehabilitation Foundation” which is dedicated to rehabilitating wandering mentally ill people and reuniting them post-treatment with their families.
Almost 32 years ago, Dr. Vatwani and his wife came across a schizophrenic young man wandering in the streets of Mumbai. Shocked to see his condition, they took him to their clinic and started treating him. Over time, the young man recovered and began to remember little information about his family that eventually helped Vatwani to locate his home. While sharing his journey, he recalled this specific incident that inspired him to establish “Shraddha”, as mentioned in The Guardian.
“Our medical treatment is coupled with kindness and empathy, which the patient rarely experienced on the streets. Depending on the severity of the illness, the person will spend anywhere between two to three months at the center.” Vatwani said.
Patients are not sent to their loved ones until Vatwani himself certifies them as recovered. The team does deductive work in reuniting the patients with their loved ones as many patients’ families live in extremely remote areas. The foundation even sends medication regularly to the patients’ homes to continue their treatments. “Shraddha” has succeeded in reuniting 8000 patients with their families till 2019 and many of them even achieved success in their career post-recovery, Vatwani added further.
“Given the scale of the mental health problem in the country, my contribution is insignificant,” Dr. Vatwani said on the occasion of receiving the Magsaysay Award in 2018. According to him, people with mental health problems need unconditional love and support from their loved ones to cope with their sufferings.