Mental Disorders: Burden to Families; Part 3: What Lies Ahead for the Mentally Ill

Article excerpt

Byline: CORAZON ALMA DE LEON

The goal of the World Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation-Philippines(WAPR- Phil.) is the improvement of the quality of life of those who suffer from mental disorders. It has pursued programs on psychosocial rehabilitation of persons with mental disorders. In the process, it has also started efforts to take away a family?s stigma for having a member who suffers from this condition.

These efforts of WAPR are considered significant contributions in the advocacy to ?destigmatize? anything related to mental illness. Through them, the organization aims to make policy makers aware of the importance of psychosocial rehabilitation.

After a killer earthquake hit Central Luzon, WAPR-Phil. collaborated with the Mental Health Task Force on Disaster Management to provide psychosocial rehab program to the victims. This program later extended to cover the needs of victims of other natural disasters such as those affected by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, the Ormoc floods and the regular strong typhoons.

The WAPR directors, as the leaders of the Mental Health Task Force, directed these programs and activities. They not only conceptualized and implemented the framework for psychosocial intervention programs following a disaster, but many of them even extended financial and professional assistance.

WAPR-Phil. was the co-sponsor of a multisectoral workshop on the Development of a National Program on Psychosocial Care, with the SGV Foundation and the DoH National Program for Mental Health in October 1991.

In addition, the publication of the book, ?From Victims to Survivors: Psychosocial intervention in disaster management,? which won the Most Outstanding Publication Award in 1994 from the National Academy of Science and Technology, was authored by two WAPR-Phil officers.

Among its significant undertakings are: training courses on family intervention; seminars on promoting partnerships with families and caregivers; and the holding of the national conference held Nov. 28-29, 2000 on ?Destigmatization: Promoting partnerships among families and caregivers of the mentally ill.?

Recently, Eli Lilly Company Philippines partnered with WAPR-Phil. in a project known as ?Meaningful Day.? This project consists of modules on schizophrenia, aimed at educating family members and caregivers on various aspects of the disease and how it can be managed.

?The road ahead is long. It is littered with myths, secrecy and shame. Rare is the family that will be free from an encounter with mental disorders or not need assistance and care over a difficult period. Yet, we feign ignorance or actively ignore this. The solutions to mental health problems are not difficult to find, many of them are already with us. What we need is to focus on this as a basic necessity.? These words from Dr. Gro Harlem Bruntland, Director General of the World Health Organization, summarize the obstacles of the mentally-ill?s path to ?recovery.?

Since the World Federation for Schizophrenia and Allied Disorders (WFSAD) launched the Families in Care program in 1997, there have been efforts focused on promoting the development of mental health programs which recognize the value of family participation. …