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New Partnership Launch in Tamil Nadu, India

Published: 29 March 2022
Updated: 25 September 2023
Carers Worldwide and Vasantham Federation Partnership

On the first of March, we launched a new partnership with Vasantham Federation of Differently Abled Persons, generously funded by the LiveLoveLaugh Foundation. The aim of our partnership is to improve the mental health and well-being of unpaid family carers and people with mental illness in Tiruvallur District, Tamil Nadu, India.

A Unique Partnership

Vasantham Federation is a unique partner for Carers Worldwide as this is the first time that we have partnered with an organisation for people with disabilities run by people with disabilities, with 90% of their staff having a disability.

All our partner organisations are well established and doing amazing work for people with various conditions, but Vasantham Federation is in a unique position and provides a powerful platform for us to advocate to local authorities. They are in a stronger position to talk about the issues faced by people with disabilities and their carers, as they have experienced it themselves.

This is the first time the Vasantham Federation have recognised the critical role of unpaid family carers in their work. The staff themselves are thinking about their own families differently and recognise the sacrifices they have made to help them and how much it has impacted their lives.

Group of people sitting and standing outside, underneath a banner all holding their thumbs up

The Vasantham Federation team

Their President, A. Livingston said, “This is the first time we are exclusively doing a project for unpaid family carers and people with mental illness and I think of it like the two rails of a train track. We must have coordination and cooperation and see carers and care receivers as equals, both travelling in the same direction. This is how our project is designed – to improve the life of both. We cherish the partnership with Carers Worldwide and perceive that Vasantham Federation will be able to create a huge impact in our project area through this partnership”.

Focusing on Mental Illness

Our partnership with Vasantham Federation takes Carers Worldwide into our fifth state in India, Tamil Nadu. This project is the first of its kind in the state. We are working holistically to address the issues of carers and cared for individuals living with mental illness. Vasantham Federation have focused previously on physical disabilities, but for this project, they will be focusing on mental illness. This is where The LiveLoveLaugh Foundation comes in.

The LiveLoveLaugh Foundation ‘aims to give hope to every person experiencing stress, anxiety and depression.’ They do this by raising awareness around mental health and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness. We have worked with the foundation before and are very pleased to extend our partnership with them.

Group of people standing inside, two of them holding a piece of paper

Carers Worldwide Founder, Anil Patil with the team at The Live Love Laugh Foundation

Carers Worldwide Founder, Anil Patil commented: “We’re delighted that we were able to deliver on our first project with LiveLoveLaugh Foundation and that they clearly see us as a meaningful partner. We work strategically, with a clear roadmap and everything we do leads to creating a sustainable process. This process of empowerment allows us to hand over to the people, so they can continue to access the services in the future. The way we are working with The LiveLoveLaugh Foundation is low cost, scalable and flexible and can be easily replicated in other parts of the country – exactly what we want from our partnerships.”

CEO of The LiveLoveLaugh Foundation, Anisha Padukone, said of our partnership: “LiveLoveLaugh’s partnership with Carers Worldwide India began in 2019. Through the unique model they follow, we have impacted the lives of 800+ persons with mental illness and their caregivers in Orissa. Carers Worldwide India’s focus on caregiver mental health has helped further The LiveLoveLaugh Foundation’s core objective of giving hope to every person experiencing stress, anxiety & depression by taking a more inclusive approach. We look forward to creating more impact in the years to come along with Carers Worldwide India.”

Carers Worldwide as the Catalyst

Our aim is to deliver and demonstrate a tangible change in the health and well-being of unpaid family carers as well as those they care for, leading to them having an independent and productive life.

One way in which we do this is to help people access the District Mental Health Programme (DMHP), to take advantage of the government’s mental health services as well as free medicines. Unfortunately, DMHP doesn’t have enough resources to reach everyone who needs support. We help by raising awareness of the support available and organising for people to come together in one central place for the DMHP to visit. They are then able to diagnose and prescribe medicines, and to assess if follow up is needed or counselling is required.

This kind of partnership and catalytic approach is powerful – we facilitate and make sure that people can and do access what is there for them.

Up and Running

The team at Vasantham Federation have had a busy month since the launch. They have had training on baseline data collection from Natesh in our Carers Worldwide India team and have been out in the field collecting this data from family carers. We use this to help us analyse the impact we have had on the carers involved in our projects. They have also completed a two-day training programme on Mental Health and Mental Illness, conducted by Dr. Shreedevi, Asst. Professor in the Department of Psychiatric Social Work at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) and Mr Raghu, a PHD scholar at NIMHANS.

Chitra from Vasantham Federation said of the training: “This is the first time I have attended any training on mental health and mental illness. I feel that I now really understand the difference between mental illness and intellectual disability, and I learnt about the causes, symptoms and different types of mental illness. The sessions really enhanced my knowledge and skills to be able to work with family carers and people with mental illness.”

Men and women sitting in a circle listening to a man and woman presenting

Training on Mental Health and Mental Illness from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences

Mary, one of the carers surveyed said: “This is the first time someone is asking about me as well as my daughter. I feel it’s very good that someone is willing to help. It’s a good feeling. Thanks for your kind support.”

We look forward to supporting many more unpaid family carers like Mary through our partnership with Vasantham Federation. If you would like to help us reach and support more family carers, then please consider donating to India. Thank you.

Vasantham Federation collecting data

Vasantham Federation team in the field collecting baseline data from unpaid family carers