The PCBR project team started by raising awareness in the clinics where the clients and their caregivers went for their health care and medication. The PCBR team explained the need for the individuals to come together and to form a social support group who helped themselves.
A typical SHG is composed of elected Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and Organizing Secretary. The groups hold meetings once a month. The meetings are chaired by a chairman and guided by a constitution. A typical meeting is opened by a prayer and the reading of the minutes of previous meeting, followed by general health talk (led by a health worker), discussion on common problems (e.g. drug adverse effects), financial matters (e.g. managing the revolving loan scheme). The meeting is usually closed with singing and dancing as well as a closing prayer.
Mental health service users are the center of this programme. Over half of all the members are women, who have even greater need for finding independent means of livelihood. Persons with psychosocial disabilities have actively participated in the formation of the SHGs, organization structure and decision making process. They themselves are responsible for defining the agenda of the meetings, thematic priorities and advocacy initiatives.
The SHGs promote self-help, self-reliance and independent decision-making. The activities aim at strengthening the entrepreneurial capacity of the individual members supporting their independent livelihood and other workshops focus on improvement of daily living skills. The success is visible: the SHG members report that they are more aware of their own rights and that the discrimination by family members and the community reduced as they gained financial independence.