An 800-metre stroll through a tranquil path beneath a green thicket of towering trees and colourful flowering plants, accompanied by the calming chirp of birds from the main block of the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) in Kilpauk, Chennai, leads to Block 15, a refuge for nearly 100 mentally challenged patients. The building got a much-needed facelift through Project Hope, an initiative of RC Chennai Industrial City, RID 3232. From a total budget of $112,000 (₹93.5 lakh), the club has, in the first phase, renovated Ward 6 at a cost of $12,050 (₹10.24 lakh).
RIPE Gordon McInally, who inaugurated the new block in the presence of RID A S Venkatesh and DG N Nandakumar, reiterated the importance of tackling mental health issues and destigmatising it. “Mental health awareness is a cause close to my heart and I urge our clubs to identify specific needs of the local community and engage in mental health projects,” he said.
Block 15 treats patients with severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar and personality disorder. It is one of the 21 wards at IMH, which also houses facilities for de-addiction, mentally-ill prisoners, an intensive psychiatric care ward, geriatric ward, and six special wards for children and adolescents.
IMH director Dr M Malaiappan said, “We get around 500 patients a day. This highlights the importance of the Institute’s role in addressing the community’s mental health needs. However, many of our facilities, including Block 15, were outdated and in dire need of renovation.”
The renovation activity included repairing damaged floors and walls, replacing outdated furniture and equipment, and construction of a toilet block. A wide platform and a ramp leading to it have also been constructed in the garden. This will be used for therapeutic intervention, including yoga and exercise, group therapy sessions and individual counselling. Staff nurse R Lakshmi pointed out that the improved lighting and ventilation will benefit the patients’ overall health.
“Our aim was to provide a safe, comfortable and calming environment for the patients,” said PDG and club member J Sridhar. Club president Emily Titus is happy that “the club’s contribution has created a more conducive environment for healing and recovery for the inmates.”
Picture by Kiran Zehra