Family members and guardians of self help group members sensitized about psychosocial issues
Posted on: 25 Sep, 2017

Koshish

An interaction program was organized on 24th April, 2017 by KOSHISH for family members and guardians of Self Help Group members (psychosocial disability) of Bhaktapur which was held in District Development Committee Hall, Bhaktapur. The session was organized to inform them about the services provided by KOSHISH in the community, present current scenario of psychosocial disability in Nepal. The objective of the program was also to enhance social support system and develop good relationship among self help group members.

For most of its history, self help program operated by KOSHISH has focused solely on beneficiaries where they are provided with a safe, secure, confidential and trustworthy environment and connect to people with similar problems and share their feelings with whom they can trust. But with the experience of operating self help group for over 9 years, KOSHISH realized the need to involve family members in the recovery process of the beneficiaries as well, as most of the beneficiaries shared that their family members do not understand their problem and they don’t get adequate support from them. A baseline study was conducted among the self help group members in Bhaktapur and more than 50% mentioned of unsupportive and indifferent behavior from their family members about their problem and poor relationship with them. Some were even verbally abused by their own family members leaving them with a sense of guilt of being a burden to their family resulting in low self esteem. Recovery is difficult when people with psychosocial disability are living in fear and isolation in the space where they spend most of their time and the people who are supposedly close to them the most do not bother. Therefore it was important to bring the beneficiaries and their family members together in a program and listen to their concerns and experiences of living together.

A total number of 18 (3 male and 15 female) self help group members and 14 family members/guardians participated in the meeting. The session was facilitated by Mr. Matrika Devkota and he shared his experience of having psychosocial disability and despite of it creating lots of barriers; overcoming it with sheer determination and passion to work for other people living with it. He mentioned that the society and perception of many towards people suffering from psychosocial disability is opprobrious as they are highly stigmatized, abused and accused of many things that they are not even responsible for. He further added that the disease in itself is not a problem as most of them can be cured by consuming medicine, but what is difficult to cure is the behavior of society towards people with psychosocial disability. He was skeptic of the government's lack of focus on psychosocial disability as well citing the example of free treatment and medical provisions for people suffering from HIV and Tuberculosis but nothing of such for people suffering from psychosocial disability. He also shared about the importance of getting together and having a collective voice for people with psychosocial disability which would bring about change in their own life as well as perception of the society as a whole.  

Self help group members and their family/guardian were encouraged to share their experience of living with each other. Views expressed by beneficiaries was that it is difficult for a person living with psychosocial disability with all the barriers that they have to go through but it is equally difficult for the family members as well who have to take care of the person with disability despite not knowing what they are going through. But, there was unanimous agreement by the beneficiaries that they would want their family members to be a little more understanding of their situation and realize that when they behave in a certain way, it is not because they want to do so but because of the problem that they have. Counseling sessions with family members regarding this will go a long way in ensuring support for the beneficiaries in their homes. Family members though shared that in spite of it being a bit difficult, they have stood by them and supported them in helping them overcome their problem.

The interaction program with family members and guardians reinforced the view that it was important not just to focus on people having psychosocial problems but also their family members/guardians. They are the primary support and care givers for the beneficiaries and their understanding of the problem faced by person with psychosocial disability will garner support and will strengthen their recovery process.