Where quality mental health care is provided at a cost-effective price…
There has always been a dearth of comprehensive, accessible, and cost-effective mental health care in India. Social stigma is the biggest roadblock in people reaching out to doctors and seeking help. Mental Health Statistics 2022 reveals that over 970 million people across the world are suffering from various mental health issues including substance abuse disorders.
In this direction, Asha Hospital has become a beacon of hope by introducing revolutionary mental health care facilities to those in need. We wanted to know the strategy and new-age treating methodologies introduced by the team of senior doctors at Asha Hospital. Hence, we sat for a virtual meeting with each of them individually and conversed about various aspects of the institution. We have mentioned various excerpts of the conversation with different key persons here, but before that, let’s get started with discussing the Institution’s profile and its services.
Incepted about two decades ago, Asha Hospital is a premier Psychiatric Institute in the private sector. Presently, located at Banjara Hills, Hyderabad, it offers a full range of Mental Health Services to patients hailing from all over the country as well as abroad. While establishing itself as one of the largest private institutes in India, it has become a centre of excellence in Psychiatry and has a Pre-Entry level certification from NABH.
With a 96 beds facility that is operated under the guidance of 30 psychiatrists, it has been rendering acute care for various psychiatric illnesses. 40-bed geriatric care centre, 150-bed long-term rehab and 25-bed Deaddiction centre at the institution’s facility gives it a leading edge in the mental health care space. The facility also houses a high dependency Medical unit to cater to the needs of those with High mental health needs with co-existing high physical health needs.
Dr. Raghuram Reddy :- Alongside establishing Acute care hospital at Banjara Hills, Asha Hospital has also conceptualized various facilities for Long term care (AJRC), Care for the Elderly with special mental health needs (Golden Oak), rehabilitation services for Alcohol and Substance use disorders (Asha Deaddiction Centre), exclusive outpatient clinics (Access Psychology) for children and adolescents, Women wellness and Psychological services that improve coping skills while dedicating a world-class Neuromodulation Unit at Golden Oak Gachibowli.
Asha Hospital has been a pioneer in pharmaceutical medical research, conducting clinical drug trials. Started in 1998, the growth of the Institution has been impressive both in Academics and Clinical practice for the last two decades and currently offers services in all subspecialties of Psychiatry. The hospital premises in Rd n. 14 Banjara Hills contains a fully functional 96 bedded inpatient facility and is one of the largest and one of the few fully equipped inpatient psychiatry units in Hyderabad City.
Comprehensive Emergency Psychiatry Program (CPEP) at Asha Hospital provides service to most acute and highly agitated or violent patients. Apart from dealing with treatment of various psychiatric disorders great care is given to look into any physical health issues by the team of Doctors headed by a very senior physician Dr. Y. Ganesh. The Outpatient facility offers round the year OP consultation services (including on Sundays) with 25+ psychiatrists with an option for Teleconsultation as well.
Specialty OP clinics include De-addiction clinic, Child & Adolescent mental health clinic, Women’s mental health clinic, Geriatric psychiatry clinic apart from OCD clinic, Bipolar clinic and Schizophrenia clinics. The Department of Clinical Psychology at Asha Hospital comprises certified and experienced Clinical Psychologists who provide psychological services (assessments and interventions) to all age groups.
The team of Psychologists are trained to conduct assessments that will help understand the patient’s condition as well as provide therapy and counseling services to overcome and manage these conditions. At the Women’s wellness clinic, they offer Preconception evaluation and counseling and Perinatal psychiatric care. Optimal Wellbeing Clinic: High levels of stress and anxiety affect one’s personal and social lives including jobs and studies.
In times of severe crisis and major life events, it often becomes hard to handle and balance the different aspects of life which can affect the. Finding the right course of intervention and experts can be a daunting task in such cases. The Optimal well-being clinic has experienced and qualified mental health professionals and therapists lead by Mrs. Kanthi Reddy senior clinical psychologist.
“We at Asha hospital perform Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation (NIBS) techniques (TMS/tDCS) on a regular basis, either as a primary form of treatment or as an adjunct to the medical management in patients with various Neuro-Psychiatric disorders. We have already completed a Decade of our Journey in Neuromodulation.
We perform about 40+ sessions of TMS, 10+ sessions of tDCS and 10+ sessions of Biofeedback on daily basis in our Hospital.
We have completed doing almost 150,000 sessions of rTMS, 50,000 sessions of tDCS and Biofeedback, and this wealth of experience bolsters our confidence in the safety and efficacy of these treatment modalities,” statement tossed by Dr M S Reddy, “We are one of the only institutions in India to use the advanced Brainsway Deep TMS system and TMS with Neuronavigation. The Brainsway Deep TMS system is one of the latest and most cutting-edge technologies in the field; its advanced technology stimulates deeper areas of the brain compared to a traditional rTMS system.”
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a medical treatment most commonly administered to patients with severe depression, mania, schizophrenia, that has not responded to other treatments. It is nothing like what is portrayed in popular media and movies -The patient does not get violent seizures, does not feel pain during the procedure. The team which manages this department is headed by Dr Omprakash, senior Anesthetist.
Under his supervision and expertise more than a lakh of treatments were administered during the last two decades with 0% complications. Asha De-addiction Centre is an extension of Asha Hospital with over 15 Years of excellence and 15000+ happy patients. It is a comprehensive facility where all the needs of the client can be addressed by professionals in a stress-free and safe environment. Individualized treatment plans with methods that are outcomebased, scientific and are recognized by International & National organizations as effective are implemented for substance use disorders and/or co-occurring disorders.
Dr. Ramana Cherukuri senior consultant in Addiction psychiatry along with Dr. Sandeep and team of psychologists and counselors render the necessary services at this facility, Asha Jyothi Rehabilitation Centre located in Malkaram village near Shamshabad was started in the year 2010. It provides treatment facilities for a short stay, respite care and long term rehabilitation.
Dr. G. Jagannath and his team of rehabilitation psychologists and Psychiatric social workers render their services at this center. Golden Oak – Senior Citizens Home caters to the elderly who have special needs which cannot be taken care of in regular old age homes, Golden Oak – Senior Citizens Home caters to the elderly who are affected with Dementia and related disorders. Located at Malkaram Village, the home has a sprawling campus of four acres with greenery all around, and the facilities are elderfriendly. Families caring for persons with Dementia can also use this facility for respite.
Dr. Najamus Saquib in charge of Geriatric psychiatric unit supervises the care. Apart from the patient care Asha Hospital has postgraduate training facilities in Psychiatry. DNB (Diplomate National Board) training program at Asha hospital was started in 2006. The Program is affiliated to National Board of Examinations. Till Date 50 doctors have qualified from our institute and are spread across India and abroad. Dr Sharada Menon Gold medal was awarded to Dr. K.L. Vidhya in 2015, Dr Idrees in 2016, and Dr. Aparna Badagala in 2017.
POST-DOCTORAL FELLOWSHIP – PDF (CHILD PSYCHIATRY)
Dr. M.S Reddy :- PDF in child psychiatry was started under guidance of Dr Gowri Devi, who has 30 plus years of experience in dealing with children. The program is recognized by KNR University, Warangal Telangana. Various national and international academic conferences and continuous medical education (CME) programs are conducted by the Institute. In addition to all the above as socially committed professional organization the institute started free rural mental health services at four locations in the state of Telangana this year. These services are accessible to economically back ward rural population at their doorstep.
GLIMPSES OF THE ONE-ON-ONE INTERACTION
The Director and Consultant Psychiatrist at Asha Hospital, Dr M.S Reddy shared his areas of specialization and experience so far while asserting the significance of mental health in today’s unprecedented scenario. He goes on to explain that alongside managing their own roles and responsibilities across the institution, the team of doctors equally contributes to Asha Hospital’s growth.
Here, he is a seasoned specialist at Asha Bipolar and OCD Clinic that mainly deals with mood disorders (Depression, Bipolar disorders, premenstrual disorder, and disruptive disorders) and OCD while being in operation for more than a decade now. Pharmacotherapy, inpatient treatment, electroconvulsive therapy and Neuromodulation are the types of treatments offered to patients dealing with various psychiatric issues under his guidance. “Our clinical centre has become a preferred place to treat bipolar disorders and OCDs
where patients hailing from diverse geographies reach out to us seeking best-in-class treatments. In our special treatments, Neuromodulation has emerged to be the most distinct and effective treatment method where astounding results have been witnessed at our centre,” claims Dr Reddy.
The advanced Neuromodulation Techniques introduced by Asha Hospital are the extension of allowing patients to stop suffering and start recovering from various psychiatric disorders without any heavy medications and with almost no side effects. Defining the process of Neuromodulation, Dr Reddy explains that it is the alteration of nerve activity in a target area by using the latest technology.
Currently, Neuromodulation has a wide range of applications in different areas of medicine. Neuromodulation techniques involve repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS), Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) and Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). This new-age treatment is approved by FDA and is effective for curing depression, OCD and tobacco de-addiction. It is not a stand-alone treatment but an add-on treatment for treating multiple mental health issues.
Now, we are in a conversation with Dr K. Chandra Sekhar- the Managing Director of Asha Hospital. He walked us through his area of expertise and his overall experience so far. He began by saying that what started as a 30-bed hospital in 1998 has become a 325-bed facility in the private psychiatric sector. Specialized in Neuropsychiatry, he has been heavily involved in the organization’s operational functionality since its inception in the late 90s.
“Our success lies in a team approach that is strengthened by mutual trust and collegiate practice “Establishing a centre of excellence for mental health care is the steadfast vision that drives the culture at Asha Hospital. Here, a culture of nurturing continuous learning and research has been ingrained for the betterment of the individuals associated with the institution. High ethical standards are maintained to deliver services towards improving the mental health of patients.
Dr G Prasad Rao walked us through his area of specialization and different facets of the hospital. He specialized in dealing with cases of Schizophrenia by providing the patients with various pharmacological and psychological therapies that is followed by rehabilitation therapy. He is extensively involved in clinical drug trials and research programmes in collaboration with various multinational pharmaceutical companies. His research is majorly focused in the areas of clinical Drug trials, Depression, Neuroimaging and Dementia. Backed by a team of young researchers under the guidance of Dr Rao, Asha Hospital has bagged innumerable recognitions and awards for exemplary research performed by them.
Should be provided with a supportive environment where they can cultivate their positive emotions. As per Dr Gowri, during childhood, alleviating mental health issues is quite easier than dealing with them in adulthood. Hence, early diagnosis of any underlying disorder could prove to be miraculous to any child. Individual psychotherapy plays a wonderful role in the healing process that is accompanied by Family Therapy which is an integral part of the treatment. Medical, psychological or psychosocial methods are utilized by doctors to deal with children facing mental health issues.
“Ultimate aim of our operations is to reach out to those in dire need of help and put a significant impact on their lives. To achieve this, we have come up with collaborative practice as we believe in mutual trust and sharing knowledge to get the best outcomes,” claims the luminary. Before putting an end to the conversation, he wanted to demystify a few myths regarding mental health.
“People often consider mental health treatment to be giving sleeping pills, asylum care or administering electric shock treatments. I wish to bust such myths as none of these is true. We as a community need to address the fact that a majority of patients are able to recover completely and go back to their previous lifestyles,” concluded Dr Chandra Sekhar Now, some excerpts from the conversation with Dr M Gowri Devi who is Consultant Psychiatrist specializing in child psychiatry and Director at Asha Hospital.
She holds a considerable amount of experience in Adult as well as child psychiatry by working at various government as well as private hospitals. For the past 35 years, she has been practicing child psychiatry with children and adolescents the age ranging from 1 year to 18 years.
Her approach is to reach out to help children and adolescents deal with the current stressful scenarios. As per the child’s requirement, they have established a special centre where a child counselor interacts and gets to know his intellectual development, emotional quotient, intelligence quotient and emotional or social development accordingly. Helping children express as well as address their emotions is a critical factor that defines the rest of their lives. For a brighter future, children.
Dr Chytanya Deepak :- Dr Gowri Devi continues to explain that mental, behavioral, psychological, and social issues need to be expertly addressed to aid a child to develop into a healthy adult. Why is child psychiatry important? The first five years of a child’s development are crucial to determining the rest of the journey in which he/ she requires utmost attention and care. It is the phase when a child learns various life skills be it motor, language, mimicry, etc.
This phase could be heavily disrupted in case of any underlying psychological disorder and may get completely unnoticed by the parents. Afterwards, Dr Chytanya Deepak joined us to share his side of the story. He is heading the operations at Asha Hospital as a Consultant Psychiatrist and Director supervising the Bipolar Disorders clinic. For the past 10 years, he has also been serving the institution as Medical Officer In charge. He is responsible for the supervision of the safety and treatment protocols at the hospital premises.
Particularly, he is involved in maintaining proper flow at the OCD and Bipolar clinic. His area of specialization as a consultant psychiatrist is OCD where he aids in rendering treatment modalities such as pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy, rTMS, etc, to deal with this common disorder. He is a pivotal part of an apt team specializing in mood disorders including Dr M S Reddy, Dr Shweta Reddy, Dr Rachel and Dr Mansa. In close collaboration, they provide comprehensive treatment to the patients in their OCD and Bipolar clinics.
“Most people are in the dark in terms of identifying OCD as a major psychological disorder. The compulsive behavior of performing repetitive acts disrupts a patient’s life in the most drastic manners and we need to spread more and more awareness concerning this disorder that has effective treatment. People need to be conscious enough to identify the patterns and seek help whenever needed!,” he concluded.
Now, Dr Sandeep Kondepi joined the conversation to throw light on his area of specialization. He is working as a consultant psychiatrist and addiction specialist under the guidance of Dr Ramana Cherukuri, senior consultant in Addiction Psychiatry at Asha Hospital. Today, drug addiction has become a major global issue that threatens the future of mankind. The World Drug Report claims that 35 Million global populations are under the influence of illicit drugs. Over 40% of the Indian population is addicted to tobacco- be it chewing or smoking.
Around 16 Crore people are severely alcoholic and post Covid scenario has increased the rampant use of Cannabis and similar stimulants. And the most terrible one is that behavioral addictions (gaming addictions, shopping addictions, gambling addictions, etc.) have been surging since the pandemic hit the world. At Asha De Addiction Center, Dr Sandeep supervises the Deaddiction Program. Well, having years of experience in dealing with addicted patients, Dr Sandeep claims that no addict is actually happy with his respective addiction.
Giving an in-depth view of what exactly addiction is, Sandeep states, “Addiction is not the failure of anyone’s will or determination. It is a brain disease. This whole cycle of addiction is dopamine-driven. The more addicted a person is to something, the more he craves. And once a person is not able to control his urge to regulate his behavior or use of any substance, this becomes a severe addiction.”
Lastly, we would like to share with you a few excerpts from the conversation held with Dr G. Jagannath who is the senior psychiatrist at Asha Jyoti Rehabilitation Center. He expounded that rehabilitation plays a significant role in helping a person deal with any psychological disorder. At the rehabilitation centre, they assist the patients to develop intellectual, emotional and social skills to deal with day-to-day scenarios that improve the quality of life.
As mentally ill patients have usually lost touch with the outside world or have avoided any interaction with society for a long-time, they lack the confidence and technique to deal with the world. In this direction, the centre helps them to integrate them into community. The Rehabilitation program includes individual counseling sessions and providing emotional support to the patients.. The major role of Dr G Jaganathan’s is to help patients improve their quality of life for which his team works.
Before signing off from the conversation, he shared some parting words, “People believe that they can cure depression or any other disorder by controlling their thought process itself. But it is not so. They need professional assistance to be cured. Hence, common folks should reach out to seek help to diagnose the disease during early stages and deal with them.”
THE TESTIMONIAL SHARED BY A PRECIOUS PATIENT
“They have expertise in Trans cranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy as much or more than any American Clinic in my opinion. The intake was impressive and the interaction with the neurophysiologist during the treatment was fruitful. They did the Depression Protocol on me which seems to be the predominant protocol. It’s good for depression but also for Neurological injuries that I sustained. I have seen 2 neurologists in my journey to health & none of them mentioned TMS,” shared James Dinneen Jr.
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