What is “Care” in a Psychiatric Medical Camp for the Homeless People

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From Mad in South Asia: On the footpath, in a group of homeless people, sits a middle-aged saree-clad woman in absolute silence, looking nowhere. She sits close to her two giant white bags. She was brought in along with a salwar-kameez wearing middle-aged woman. In a group of 14 people, they were the only two women. The social worker gave both of them some tea and biscuits as they waited for their mental status examinations to be done by the psychologists. The saree-clad woman sipped her tea quietly and put the two biscuits in one of her giant white bags. Finally, it was her turn. The psychologist asked her name. She refrained from responding, just silently staring at the face of the psychologist. Then the social worker asked her name in Kannada, and she responded “Lata.” The psychologist asked her name in Kannada, but received no response again. On being told by the salwar-kameez woman that she called her “Afrah”, she recorded it as Afrah. When asked her age, Lata said that she was 3 years old. Hearing this, the psychologist laughed and said, “Look at you! You obviously cannot be 3 years old!” and then recorded her age as 40 years. Hearing this, Lata turned her face away and now refrained from meeting her eyes. The psychologist tried building rapport with Lata but in vain.

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MITUK’s mission is to serve as a catalyst for fundamentally re-thinking theory and practice in the field of mental health in the UK, and promoting positive change. We believe that the current diagnostically-based paradigm of care has comprehensively failed, and that the future lies in non-medical alternatives which explicitly acknowledge the causal role of social and relational conflicts, abuses, adversities and injustices.