The HCL Foundation & The Banyan: Building strong communities & foundations of support

By: Akshita Vaidyanathan & Mrinalini Ravi

The Banyan has maintained a partnership with the HCL Foundation for the past 6 years. Due to their support,  The Banyan has been able to initiate and maintain innovative projects across both urban and rural sites in Tamil Nadu.

Changing attitudes through open shelters

 

 

 

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The building where our Shelter for Men with Psychosocial Needs operates,  was originally a primary school that was converted into 2010 into a night shelter for homeless persons with mental health issues by the Corporation of Chennai; against much resistance from the community.

 In 2012, The Banyan took over the executive responsibilities of the shelter. With financial support from The HCL Foundation,  we decided to challenge traditional notions of institutional spaces. It was an exciting opportunity to build a truly open model of community mental health care in an urban setting. This was however, not an easy task. Through individual and group sessions, we were able to create a non-threatening environment for these concerns to be shared, and for residents to step out into the community on their own terms.

Continue reading “The HCL Foundation & The Banyan: Building strong communities & foundations of support”

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Creating safety nets – building community mental health partnerships in Kerala

Kalyani* is a mother of three living with her daughter, and granddaughter. Although she is 80 years old, Kalyani still holds the responsibility of taking care of her family. Her daughter experiences paranoid delusions, and due to the severity of her illness, is unable to work, or help with household chores, her husband left many years ago unwittingly consigning Kalyani with the onus of caring for her mentally ill daughter.

Through a spell of bad luck, Kalyani’s grand daughter, Seeta*, met with a head injury that led her to develop psychotic symptoms, similar to her mother. Her delusions became so bad that she believed that if she even opened her eyes, she would die. Kalyani, at the age of 80, stepped up and found treatment for her granddaughter at a private facility. However, this facility was very far away  from their home, and expensive. The monthly injections that Seeta received did wonders for her symptoms, but cost more than Kalyani could afford. After losing support from her other son, she had to resort to begging. She wished that there was an option that was closer to her home and more affordable for her family.

When a team from The Banyan arrived at Kalyani’s home in February to explain how a new and free outpatient clinic, run in collaboration  with The Ottapalam Welfare Trust and Mehac Foundation was to be available only a few minutes away from her home,

“Just yesterday, I went to the Vishnu temple nearby to pray that I would find the money for my grand daughter’s next doctor’s visit, and here you are today, telling me that I can now access services in my own neighbourhood, you must be Vishnu” said Kalyani.

“No, no, I’m not Vishnu. I’m from The Banyan!” said our programme manager, Salih who heads the Kerala Chapter.

Continue reading “Creating safety nets – building community mental health partnerships in Kerala”

Women’s Day @ The Banyan

On March 8th 2018, Women’s Day was celebrated across our projects with vigour, enthusiasm and passion.

At our Emergency Care and Recovery Centre, we were honoured to have Ms. V Rukmani Priyadarshini, the Superintendent of Puzhal Prison as our special guest. We began the programme with a prayer song, after which some of our long-term residents shared what Women’s day meant to them. Ms. Rukmani shared a story and motivated our clients and residents to do the same.

Clients shared their experiences; stories of hardship, struggle and resilience. These women described what their journey at The Banyan has been like, and how they feel that their lives had been transformed. They expressed their gratitude towards members of the staff that they look up to. The health care workers at the ECRC also were given the opportunity to speak about their jobs, many expressed that the work they are able to do gives meaning to their lives. The event culminated with a presentation of awards, as a token of appreciation, to our clients to celebrating their commendable traits and hard work.

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UPenn Nursing Fellow’s time at The Banyan

Alison Ercole, a psychiatric nurse from the University of Pennsylvania spent the last 3 months at The Banyan as a Global Nursing Fellow, here’s what she had to say about her time with us and what she accomplished:

I have been honoured to study and work at The Banyan over the past 3 months. I am the Global Nursing Fellow at The University of Pennsylvania and came to The Banyan help incorporate nursing concepts into the Diploma in Community Mental Health Programme offered by The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health, that trains many of the NALAM Community Mobilisers that work for The Banyan.

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Alison Ercole, Global Nursing Fellow from UPenn led a training session for the NALAM community mobilisers at The Banyan

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Learning Centre Annual Day

By Nabiya Ethiraj – Programme Manager (Outreach) Rural Mental Health Programme

The Rural Mental Health Programme initiated learning centres activities 5 years ago to create a platform for socio – economic transformation through academic support. The RMHP now has 9 learning centres in total, in which 4 centres serve tribal children, 3 serve dalit children and rest serve children from a mixed community. In total  420 children are now accessing services through the RMHP learning centre programme.

2 years ago, we began to have annual day celebrations for our learning centres to celebrate the achievements of these children. On our last two annual days we had sports, arts and cultural competitions. But, what we found was that many children went back home with no prizes,  and other children didn’t come forward to participate in the competitions due to  fear of failure.

So, this year we decided to change our annual day celebrations a little. Instead of having competitions,  we gave the children a chance to think about and come up with programme agenda with both theirs and their teacher’s inputs. Some of the children are very good in art, children from the tribal community are very keen to showcase the traditional foods an herbal remedies (e.g. snake bite remedies). So, it was decided that this year our annual day celebration for the learning centre would include an exhibition to showcase art, herbal remedies and plants,  traditional food stalls and craft works. Continue reading “Learning Centre Annual Day”