This book is the outcome of a Ph.D. thesis done by the author. The problem of slum dwellers living in filth and squalor is one of the most important and persistent problems of urban world. Unlike other books that focus on the objective viewpoints of such areas, this book tries to look into the subjective reality of these areas and the schemas and misconceptions that these people are having related to health and mental health. The study focuses upon slum dwellers of Vinayakpuram area of Lucknow city, residing in deplorable living conditions and are deprived of even the basic necessities of life. The perceptions, beliefs and views about mental health and cognitive and affective functioning of the people living in difficult circumstances have been explored extensively and deeply in the psychological perspective. Out of the total sample of 207 persons residing in the slum, those who fell in the age group of 18-45 years were selected. Accordingly our sample comprises of 105 males and 102 females.
The study takes into account the experiential world of the slum dwellers with a phenomenological viewpoint and tries to answer questions like − How does slum dwellers living condition affect the psyche of these individuals, their Mental Health and Quality of Life? How do these slum dwellers with multilevel marginalized state (in terms of below poverty line, unemployment, illiteracy and belonging to schedule caste) address the state of wellness and illness? What are the subjective perceptions of slum dwellers about health and in particular mental health? How do they cope with various forms of illness? What is their mental status in terms of cognitive functioning? What extent of depression, stress and anxiety do they have? How Qualities of Life affect relationships and in turn the Mental Health of these slum dwellers? How do they relate with self and others?
The results related to perceptions of health-related issues were that health was understood by the slum dwellers as absence of illness, ability to work efficiently, physical strength and strong built. With reference to Mental Health most of the respondents are not aware about the concept. The form of coping used to deal with negative emotions − anxiety, unhappiness and anger − is predominantly negative (passive-negative).
With respect to quality of life long working hours, dissatisfaction with wages and harsh working conditions characterized by absence of facilitates adversely affected their Quality of Work Life. There was intense felt lack and deprivation of material well-being like food, shelter and clothing in their life. Due to low literacy level most of them were unskilled workers further leading to poor income. Poor housing conditions and lack of basic amenities like clean drinking water and electricity was also noticed.
In terms of relationships, greater incidence of overlapping and enmeshed relationships reveals the dependency over others as well as fused self, other boundaries with little permeability. This leads conflict in their interpersonal relationships.
As already indicated, not much work has been done on slum dwellers from this angle and, therefore, the book will be an ideal reference point for researchers interested in the mental health and quality of life of individuals residing in slums. Moreover, the tool specially designed for conducting research by the author will also prove very useful for further research in this area. On the whole, therefore, whether and individual possesses this book or views it on the internet will definitely reap the benefits of the work which has been carried out by the author.
1. Slums : An Overview
2. Review of Literature
3. Design and Method
4. Perceptions and Status of Health and Mental Health
5. Emotional and Congnitive Experiences of Slum Dwellers
6. Quality of Life of Slum Dwellers
7. Relational World of Slum Dwellers
8. Major Findings and Concluding Observations