Post by Ratnaboli Ray and Adrika Sengupta of Anjali, Kolkata
The lockdown for the Covid 19 pandemic has not been any different for some 3000 residents of government mental health establishments. They are perennially in a state of lockdown owing to institutionalised stigma, discrimination, apathy and lack of political and public will.
Yet, 20 years ago the spring that heralded in their lives when Anjali started its journey still flickers brightly in their lives. Anjali is their only respite amidst the grim uncertainty surrounding this lockdown as they get stampeded by a system, community and world that is oblivious to them.
Despite a lockdown that might never end for them they have taken up the mantle of being responsible knowledge and care resources for their fellow residents. Visibility is not something they have dared to hope for, but it is the least we, the public can do for them who are at the lowest rungs of social justice.
Anjali is a leading organisation in the country that works on issues of mental health, disability, development and human rights. Anjali’s framework borrows from the language of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and uses a lexicon that promotes disability rather than illness to denote mental health conditions. Anjali works in partnership with the West Bengal state government for both its institution and community based intervention programmes.
Anjali is primarily an advocacy organisation, advocating for deinstitutionalisation of mental health care and progressive, humane public mental health policies. Anjali works in all four government mental health establishments to enable care and treatment based on a humanist model of disability; and in four different municipal regions to strengthen the social capital by addressing distress through a non-biomedical, development based approach of community care.