Mental illnesses affect 10.6% of our population and nearly 2% suffer from severe mental disorders. Although one member in every ten families is likely to experience serious mental illness, till today awareness on mental illness is marred with myths and misconceptions.

Shrouded by the fear of stigma, ostracism and faced by non-availability of Government psychiatric services and non-affordability of private consultations, millions of families suffer silently. Most persons with mental illness remain locked up hopelessly in miserable conditions while majority are at the mercy of traditional and faith healers.

It is necessary for every person suffering from severe mental illness to be identified early, assessed timely by a psychiatrist, get treated with adequate medicines by Government services, followed up regularly with proper psycho-education, cared by concerned caregiver and helped supportively by the community to return to productive life.

With existing paucity of mental health professionals, where we have one psychiatrist for 3 to 4 lakhs population and the slow reach of the National Mental Health Program to District level it requires everyone’s involvement to reach out those with mental illness at block and village levels. It is extremely challenging for Government to do without the community joining in its efforts and the stakeholders taking ownership towards sustainability.

Basic Needs India is one of very few organizations that have been working for more than 17 years with persons with mental illness. Through a series of consultations with stakeholders BNI developed its vision of working jointly with individuals experiencing mental illness, their families and community destigmatizing and non-discriminating the affected.

"However poor or ill a person is, s/he has the ability to manage his/her life"

Basic Needs India (BNI) grew out of the belief that the rights of people who experience mental illnesses, especially those who are poor, must be addressed not only at an individual level, but also in the context of a wider world. BNI engages people living with mental illnesses and their carers in processes that are mutually enhancing. All people involved in care and rehabilitation work learn, grow and are strengthened together. BNI addresses both people's mental health concerns and situations of poverty to ensure sustainable recovery.

The underlying conviction is that mental health issues must be seen not only in medical terms but just as importantly, as human rights issues.

BNI's main role is that of creating a caring, accommodating and understanding environment to ensure fair treatment of people living with mental illnesses. Such an effort involves liaising with and including a host of people - people affected by mental illnesses, family members and other carers, community members, medical professionals, policy makers and government officials.

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