A Dewsbury mental health worker hopes that his recent trip to Gujarat, India will help him develop mental health services for the Gujarati community in Dewsbury and Batley. There are around 15,000 people from Batley and Dewsbury who originate from Gujarat.
Mike Young, a social worker and associate director at South West Yorkshire Mental Health Trust spent three weeks in the Indian state, where he met psychiatrists, health and social care policy makers and academics to explore the possibility of future joint research and exchange visits with professionals.
Mike, who is based at Ravensleigh Cottage, Dewsbury said, "Throughout my career in social work and management I’ve always had a deep interest in services for ethnic minorities. Much is known of the demography of our Gujarati community and there will be growing and changing demands from it on mental health services in the next five years. During my trip, I learnt a lot about Gujarat and made many contacts including with people having strong connections to the Batley and Dewsbury area. I think the experience will really help me develop services for the community."
Mike found that mental health services in Gujarat, which has the same population as England, were poorly resourced, with the state sector having just four psychiatric hospitals with 640 beds, as well as a few general hospitals with acute psychiatric wards.
Mike said, "In the units I visited, conditions would be considered squalid by NHS standards. However a Vision for Mental Health has been developed and as a result the state government has funded a dozen pilot schemes with a view to building on the experience gained from them."
"Despite scarce resources there was clearly an enormous commitment to service users from those health and social care professionals whom I met. There has been a real expansion in state services in recent years and there is a desire to learn more about combining Western and traditional Indian ways of working in the mental health field. Thus, for example, I was given information on dava and duva – the joint concept of human medicine and the spiritual dimension – and a faith healers project. I’m hoping that this could form the basis of a research project in both countries."
Among the people Mike met during his trip was Dr Amarjit Singh, the head of the health service in Gujarat.
Mike said, "Dr Amarjit Singh was very keen to develop links between the Trust, University of Huddersfield and Gujarat at a time when mental health services there are expanding. We discussed exchange programmes, where nurses, psychiatrists and social workers from Gujarat could spend six months or so in the SWYMHT area on an exchange basis with our staff. I think this would be a very exciting, beneficial venture for both countries."