Anjali is currently in discussion with the Department for International Development (DFID), UK about the development of the Kolkata Urban Services for the Poor Programme (KUSP). This progam will preserve and protect the rights of people living with a psychosocial disability or mental illness in the ULB (urban local body) area, or municipalities. In these municipalities, Anjali will provide the training that will help the development of a group of community leaders, women from within that community who would in turn take on the role of protecting women with mental illness in their communities from community and domestic violence. The same women will then take on the responsibility of training the next group of community human rights and mental health workers. This program is expecting to also have support from the Global Fund for Women (GFW). In working with the communities' women, Anjali believes that it will be able create an environment where the community members will feel safe to seek help when they feel it is necessary, help that will be provided by members of their own community who would understand their situation from the inside. The program will focus on strengthening communication between men and women about mental illness/health and how they relate to issues of gender, while introducing a feminist perspective into the dialogue. Through this work, a volunteer network will be created within the communities to support referrals.
Twilight Claims' Impact
With every effort to create real change in the sphere of mental health, Anjali faces monumental challenges on all fronts: insufficient funding, governmental and institutional bureaucracy, etc. But perhaps the greatest challenge that Anjali confronts comes from the very same people that its success would help, the public. As long as the long-standing social stigma against mental illness and psychiatric care exists, every step toward progress will remain a struggle. This stigma is what maintains the status-quo, the existence of policies that ignore the fundamental human rights of milions of its citizens and allows for the violation of already exisiting laws to continue. It is stigma that allows the government to ignore commitments it has made to the United Nations about its commitment to human rights and to continue to set aside only a neglegable amount of its health budget to mental health.
Anjali would like to thank
The Ford Foundation for its invaluable support in the continuation of their work in the area of human rights. With their help, Anjali has been able to develop this program that struggles to increase awareness and create a space for healing and support to exist. The Ford Foundation has shown itself a leader in the grant and aid sector and through their support has paved the way for other foundations to follow in standing behind organizations like Anjali as they look to the future. Anjali is grateful to Govt. of West Bengal, Department of Health and Family Welfare, media houses, persons with mental illness and their families, civil society organizations who partnered with us.