Nidhas Chinthana Sansadaya (Consumer Action Forum)
We are a community of consumers/service users, sharing our life experience to bridge excluded consumers and their families with practitioners in mental health and development sectors, and to sensitize communities on mental health issues, myths, and societal actions that precipitate mental ill health.
WHAT WE DO
- Conduct research to understand the status of services from the point of view of consumers and their families
- Participate and share information at policy formulation discussions/ seminars/ workshops
- Present experience and information through media programmes
- Provide input and participate in events/ activities organised by other Mental Health organisations in the process of lobbying policy makers
- Participate at consumer/ family awareness programmes on livelihood options using personal experience
- Lead and mobilise self-help groups
- Conduct training programmes for consumers on Managing Expenses and Planning Home Gardens
- Share experience at community programmes using the techniques: Forum Theater/Theater of the Oppressed; Life story sharing at consultative workshops; Human Libraries; and contributing to media programmes
Summary of relevant work
The present focus areas of NCS concentrate on the following:
- Educate the community on effects and issues related to mental ill health to reduce stigma and discrimination: The Theatre Group comprises 12 consumer advocates who use the Forum Theatre approach to tell their life-stories in order to sensitize the community on social stigma, causes, and impacts of mental illnesses on the person affected and their family. They perform at villages, workshops, and special events organized by other development agencies, as well as at media forums. They also use village planning meetings to raise the need for including mentally ill people and other marginalized groups in community development activities in the area. Every possible instance during a day (at the bus stand, restaurant, official meeting), they use drama to educate the society on these aspects in a most diplomatic/friendly way.
- Build the confidence of community development workers to involve mentally ill people and their families in development programmes: About 60% of the members of NCS are engaged in income generation activities, while controlling their illness and its effects. This itself has demonstrated their ability to perform as productive human beings in society. As none are considered a burden by their families, sharing their life experiences with development workers and facilitators has contributed to changing the attitudes of such officers.
- Advocate and provide support for effective implementation of the National Mental Health Policy: The role NCS plays here is educating mentally ill people on their rights and entitlements at community level.