`Awareness, support can prevent mental illness`

New Delhi: Awareness and community support at an early stage can help prevent the onset of mental illness, experts suggested on Saturday.

They were speaking at a panel discussion commemorating 10 years of Erawadi tragedy in Tamil Nadu, which left 28 mentally disabled people charred to death on August 06, 2001. The victims could not escape as they were chained.

The discussion laid emphasis on the judicial reforms and social activism needed in the area of mental health. The United Nations convention on the rights of persons with disabilities was also discussed.

Former Delhi High Court chief justice AP Shah said: "The horror of the incident should have triggered many positive changes. It is still sad to know that the laws are inclined towards the safety of society from persons with illness."

Javed Abidi, director of Disabled Rights Group, said: "We need to look at the rights of mentally disabled people. They are abandoned in asylums where they are chained, given drugs that might even aggravate their illness. Their rights are violated."


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