Holistic approach to mental illness
Mental illness affects persons irrespective of age, race or religion. It disrupts one’s thinking, feeling, mood and even the daily activities of life. The approach to mentally disorded people has changed over a period of time. People now realize that it’s just a disease which is curable. Conventional psychiatric practices causing serious side effects have prompted people to look for an alternative in, ayurveda.
“Most patients reach here after suffering side effects from prolonged use of modern medicine. Some patients have-with mental illness prevailing for over 5 to 40 years. Only 25 percent of themhave had ayurvedic treatment,” says Dr S Sreelatha, Physician, Govt Ayurveda mental hospital, Kottakal. Some patients who are on modern medicine accept ayurvedic treatment as an adjunct therapy for prevention of recurrence and promotion of health, she added.
An average of 2500 patients from Kerala and neighbouring states reach the hospital every year for treatment. This one and only Ayurvedic mental hospital in the state was established in 1974 under the ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt of Kerala. The institute has been awarded the title of Centre for Excellence by the Central Council of Research in Ayurveda and Siddha.
Along with medicines, the concept of fear was applied in Ayurvedic psychiatry at its primitive stage. But nowadays, the treatment follows the traditional medicines and basic principles laid out in the classical texts of ayurveda like Ashtangahridaya. It includes internal medicines of plant, mineral and animal origin, procedural therapies like asthapana, anuvasana, nasya, concept based psychotherapies and yoga. It favours the use of combination of herbs that meet the specific needs of each patient.
Even though the concept of treatment and medicines are traditional, modern techniques are incorporated wherever necessary. For instance, usage of syringes in traditional therapies, like vasti, removes naturally accumulated body waste from the colon. The hospital is also well equipped with a laboratory having facilities for all basic screening tests necessary for medical evaluation.
Ayurveda that treats the root cause of mental illness is getting acceptance all over the world nowadays. It is strange that only one ayurvedic mental illness centre prevails in the state even though foreigners approach Kerala for ayurvedic treatment.