Psychiatric conditions: Medicine can only go so far, say mental health practitioners – The Express Tribune

by Symptom Advice on May 26, 2012

help by family is emerging as among effective methods for treating mental conditions. PHOTO: FILE


For the world outside, people diagnosed with psychiatric challenges are ostracized. But in the safety of the Recovery House in Gizri, they receive the support of their family and are treated with the dignity they deserve.

The rehabilitation centre disseminates awareness and education for treatment of their clients, who are otherwise stigmatized as ‘mental patients’.

The Recovery House, which is a project of the Caravan of Life Pakistan Trust, organised a seminar at the Beach Luxury hotel on Sunday.

Dr Tabassum Alvi, an assistant professor at the Jinnah Medical and Dental College, pointed out that rehabilitation is not a ‘cure’ but can end the symptoms, relapses and other problems that clients face.

Dr Alvi said that there are six evidence-based practices to improve mental health services in supporting the recovery process. they are medication management, assertive community treatment, integrated dual disorders treatment, illness management and recovery, family psycho education and supported employment.

Of these, she said, the help by family and assertive community treatment are emerging as among the most effective methods. she shared the example of one of her very first patients, a 34-year-old man with a 13-year history of schizophrenia. his symptoms comprised suspiciousness, sexual impulsivities and social dysfunction. “He was treated with medicines but it was only after incorporating rehabilitation that he learnt about his condition and its management.” Today, he is helping others in their path to recovery.

“Psychiatric rehabilitation is about recovery, quality of life and community integration,” she said. It requires a patient’s self-determination, optimism on the doctors’ part and care that the dignity and worth of the individual is not undermined. for the method of rehabilitation, it is most important to select the goal that is chosen by the consumer, not by the practitioner or the consumer’s family.

M* said she was able to work with her brother, who has schizophrenia, once she learnt how to change her own behaviour when he suffers an attack or a relapse. M’s brother used to be a banker and developed the condition due to stress. After their parents’ death M was alone in dealing with the situation. “However it improved when I learnt how to deal with it and in only a year he developed a sense of humour,” she said.

Dr Alvi said that assertive community services are an emerging method which has great potential for treatment of the mentally ill. It is a multidisciplinary approach in which a team comprising people in the surroundings of the patient share round-the-clock responsibilities of care.

The Recovery House’s director Saira Ali said that it is a private non-profit care centre that aims to provide a secure environment for the consumers. they learn to live with and manage their condition as independently as possible, to work productively, to help others and maintain those accomplishments throughout their lives.

The Recovery House runs two programmes: the Day Treatment programme which features lessons three days a week and the Residential Treatment with sessions and lesions six days a week. there are currently 14 people in rehabilitation, while the centre has a capacity of 25.

*Names have not been disclosed to protect the privacy of individuals

Published in the Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2012.

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