Highlighting a problem that has been long overlooked, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Thursday said that the national capital is home to 2,500 mentally ill women who have no home.
"While mental illness for women itself is severe enough not only for themselves but also for their families, it becomes critical if they are disowned by their families," Kalam said here at the beginning of a two-day conference "Mental health - is destitution the answer".
"A study conducted in Delhi with a population of 17 million is found to have nearly 2,500 mentally ill women who have no home to live and they are virtually on the streets.
"If we extrapolate for the whole nation, the country will have nearly 150,000 mentally ill destitute women who would need good hearts to take care of them," the president said in the conference organised by National Commission for Women (NCW) to mark the International Women's Day.
He said statistics provided by the ministry of social justice and empowerment about the number of mentally challenged persons in the country reveal that there are over 900,000 females with mental illness.
Of these "nearly 280,000 fall in the age group 10-29 and nearly 250,000 fall in the age group 30-50. There is a need to carry out research why the people of this age group fall victims to mental illness. The findings should lead to prevention of such illness through appropriate societal remedial action," the president said.
Kalam suggested that NCW can create a website where societal members can report about the destitute whom they have come across on a day-to-day basis. The reporting of destitute will enable the treatment and rehabilitation centre to approach them and persuade them to undergo the treatment.
"NCW can also seek the assistance of police department, scouts and guides, volunteers of National Service Scheme, NCC cadets and members of the Red Cross Society of India of different States for collection and registering of the data about the destitute in different location on the website," he added.
Highlighting the need for rehabilitation, the president said that the NCW along with government departments, state women commissions and with the active participation of corporate sector and societal transformers, can work for the creation of hundreds of rehabilitation centres and thousand after-care-homes and halfway homes across the country.
NCW Chairman Girija Vyas said that India is home to five million mentally ill women, of which nearly 100,000 need long tern rehabilitation. "We are focusing on this issue through several programmes like awareness camps, sensitisation workshops and recommendations to the government.