Chhahari Nepal for Mental Health participants ( clients: an individual with mental health problems and carers: family member looking after their loved ones with mental health problems ) expressed interest in different types of participation which was something new to our clients and their family members categorically. It was interesting to learn that they had their interpretation of transformative participation, for eg: they saw it as a process of bringing about positive changes in their lives through their participation rather than the bigger systems.
Clients and their family members brought out their perspectives on participation based on their own experiences. They were vocal about their emotions and thoughts on the process of participation including the facilitators and the barriers to it. They felt light-hearted, happy and being invited to events and sessions at CNMH welcome center sessions to share their perception and simply talk which made it meaningful. They can express themselves, speak up and be heard. They were also happy to be part of a learning experience.
Most family members who look after people with mental health problems are females but this is accepted as normal and not out of the ordinary. Most of the female family members feel that their participation has been transformative or representative because they have been part of the positive changes in their own lives or participated in programs as a representative/ caregiver. The majority of opinions were voiced by the family members who are representatives of clients. This power dynamic seems to exist and is accepted.
CNMH connection and support is the major key that facilitates participation. Their introduction to CNMH has opened the doorway to many things- proper treatment, support, access to their rights, social support etc. Facilitation is necessary without which they are running around like headless chickens. Due to the ‘sickness’, clients cannot venture out which is the biggest barrier to participation. Without the correct treatment and medication (right dose, right type) the condition of the client would not improve. They may not be able to express themselves or are not participating by themselves in events and are usually accompanied by their carers when participating so clients an individual level of participation is low.
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