Chandra is a 40-year old farmer who lives with his wife, Rita, and one of his two daughters in the foothills of  Mount Sandakphur, in eastern Nepal.

He has a long history of schizophrenia with severe episodes of visual and auditory hallucinations. This condition leaves him very distressed and unable to work, which means he cannot provide food for his family, send his daughters to school or support his wife’s small grocery shop.

Thankfully, because of our generous supporters, Chandra now has access to our monthly walk-in mental health clinic. Specialist help that has significantly changed his life.

JMH: What was your life like before you could access the walk-in mental health clinic?
Chandra: Before going to clinic I used to feel I will not survive. People used to be afraid of me; some people used to get scared and run away when they saw me. I use to think, “Why are they scared of me?”, and felt hurt and sad.

JMH: What difference has the clinic made to your life?
Chandra: After getting help from the clinic, I feel like I have got a new life. I am taking medication in time and will be following advice given by the clinic.

I also feel like an example to others in the community. If I see anyone having problems, I will suggest them to visit the clinic and meet the doctors.

JMH: How does your community view your family because of Chandra’s illness?
Rita (Chandra’s wife): It is not that easy having a male member of the house as a patient. Some people are supportive and nice, but there are people who are not well wishers. Sometimes it gets difficult; it feels like we might have to move from this place and go to another community.

JMH: How has your family responded to Chandra’s illness?
Chandra: My father in-law and mother in-law and brother in-laws are not that supportive. We do not get any financial help from them. There is always a fear that we won’t be able to give our daughters a proper education.

JMH: Have you seen any difference in your husband after attending the clinic?
Rita: When he was sick the situation was very worse. We took help off spiritual healers but nothing worked. We had no idea what to do. But later we came to know about the clinic from a community health volunteer.

Chandra has now improved a lot. I can now visit my parent’s house without worrying about his safety, which is a relief.

JMH: How do you see the future?
Rita: Comparing the past and present, I feel it will get better. Because of the clinic, and seeing the changes in Chandra, I am very hopeful. I now have the idea that medication is very useful.

Durga is a 54-year old mother and grandmother who lives in a remote hilly area in eastern Nepal.

In 2014, Durga’s husband, Rajan, and other relatives started to notice that Durga had become increasingly sad and withdrawn. As time passed, she became so low that she tried to hang herself, but she was thankfully found and saved.

Desperate to understand his wife’s condition, Rajan sought the nearest  professional help, which was hundreds of miles away. Unfortunately, this proved ineffective and too expensive for Rajan to keep trying. With no specialist or follow-up support in Sandakpur, Durga’s mental health continued to deteriorate at an alarming speed until December 2018. The month we launched our mental health walk-in clinic in Ilam.

JMH: What are your feelings about the walk-in clinic and the people who run it?
Durga: I can’t express my happiness and gratitude towards you and your team. I keep remembering you all every day and night that you came to our place and cured the illness that was so difficult to manage.

We went many places and spent a lot of money and time to get rid of the illness. But it’s only possible because of you.

JMH: Can you tell us specifically how the clinic has helped you?
Durga: After visiting the clinic and having medication, I started getting better over time, my thoughts improved, I felt like I am becoming more like the other women in the community.
My sleep also got better and my appetite improved. I started preparing food for my family, looking after my children and grandchildren, washing their clothes, and taking the kids to school.

Now I feel much more active. I can focus on my household and I can help with the farm work.
My confidence has grown after going through this experience. Now I feel I can overcome any obstacle that comes to me.

JMH: How do you view the future?
Durga: I view my future to be hopeful. I will follow the advice given by the doctors and visit the clinic regularly. Seeing my condition and improvement, people in the community with difficulties will be encouraged and start visiting the clinic.

JMH: What was the advice given to you by your community when Durga was ill?
Rajan (Durga’s husband): It was suggested that I took my wife to the spiritual healers and try different herbal medicines; but these did not work.
After that, I took Durga to hospitals in Nepal and India, but this did not help either.
Meanwhile, some elderly people in the community thought she might need to be chained and locked up, as that was the traditional way of treating people with such conditions. But the younger generation and people of my age said it’s not wise to treat people as animals.

People in past had a lot of taboos and stigma regarding mental illness. But people in my community are getting aware about modern medicine and are having good experiences with doctors.

JMH: What difference have you seen in Durga after she started to attend the
walk-in clinic?

Rajan: An immense difference. She used to lie down all day, did not care if anyone came and went from our house, and did not want to eat food or drink water.

She even tried committing suicide multiple times.
We had to be like security guards and observe her all time, which affected our daily activities.
We were also in great fear that she might harm others. But after coming to the clinic and bringing medication home our whole family has felt the change in her, and we all are very happy now.

JMH: How do you see the future?
Rajan: People in society tend to hide mental illness. People might not get married or have a job as it is a difficult thing. But if your team keeps coming and people see the difference it’s made to our family, then I think future will get better for everyone.