Doctor Bharat Vatwani, a resident of Mumbai, who has been treating mentally ill patients and reuniting them with their family members for years now is a philanthropist who has often spoken about the importance of mental health. A recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, Vatwani has been treating mentally ill patients for more than 30 years now. Vatwani recalled the time when he and his wife witnessed a man scooping dirty gutter water in a coconut shell and drinking it. The man had no memory of who he was or where he came from. It was in that moment Vatwani decided to do something for the mentally ill. After treating him for schizophrenia, the man slowly regained his memory. His whereabouts were traced back to Andhra Pradesh, where he reunited with his family.
According to the 2015-2016 survey by the Government, 15% of Indian adults suffer from some sort of mental illness. Doctor Vatwani and his wife formed the Shraddha Rehabilitation Foundation in 1988. They in a joint effort provide shelter, food and clothing to the wandering mentally ill. Once a patient recovers, a social worker who speaks the same dialect escorts them home. Doctor Vatwani and his wife have managed to rehabilitate and reunite around 10,000 people with their families all across India. Many of the patients have now managed to reintegrate into our society, holding respectable jobs.
Vatwani speaks about the absence of good psychiatrists in the country. He asserts that people need to take mental health seriously for a person suffering from any mental problem. It is as important as a person suffering from any physical deformities. Vatwani specified that there is a requirement for more doctors, social workers with the right facilities which would facilitate the awareness and treatment for mental health. Vatwani, being his most humble self calls his work 'insignificant' compared to the number of people suffering from mental health issues. He further added that global attention and awareness is needed to be able to achieve the required goals.