User-Survivors’ Outreach Efforts Need Your Help

Towards furthering development of mental health initiatives across India, The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health (BALM) has launched a Fellowship Programme in Mental Health for the year 2012-2013 The programme is aimed at fostering solutions that address key challenges in the sector.

Bangalore Beggars' Home
The Bangalore Beggars’ Home where Dr. Lavanya Seshasayee, BALM Fellow, works.

Located within the ambit of the Mental Health and Social Action Lab (MHSAL), the Fellowship programme provides an opportunity for individuals who have shown outstanding skills and leadership to implement mental health services in real world settings.

The Fellowship works with a specific focus on individuals who have a first hand experience of mental health as user-survivors, who have made the journey towards recovery and are ready to synthesise their learning for larger outreach to others affected by similar issues.

BALM has three fellows currently enrolled in the Programme.

Dr. Lavanya Seshasayee, a Phd in Clinical Psychology, is a user survivor who helps women reclaim their health through her organisation The Indian Women’s Recovery Movement for Mental Health. Her doctorate thesis focused on development of a new form of psychotherapy titled Feminist Self Advocacy (FSA) wherein clients combine effective medication management with training for self reliance, empowered decision making and equitable participation in treatment choices.

Through the BALM’s Fellowship Programme, she proposes  to work towards reintegration of homeless persons with mental health issues currently living at the Bangalore Beggars’ Home, Bangalore and to apply a modified framework of FSA in providing psychosocial interventions for users and caregivers at Prasanna Counseling Center, Bangalore.

Thiruselvi offers counselling and follow up services for those attending the non-tribal outpatient clinic at Ashwini in Nilgiris district. She has been able to reach out to more than two hundred persons, fifty eight of whom have severe mental health disorders and  she continues to follow them up. Her work in her own community has enabled her to refer four clients to Ashwini’s clinic since start of fellowship in December. During this period she has established contact with many ASHA workers in Pandalur Taluk as well as met the Health Inspectors for a prospective awareness for ASHA workers on mental health.

Picture Shampa
Shampa Sengupta

Shampa Sengupta works in the cross disability space offering services as well as enabling policy and legislative action. Shampa has starting documenting narratives of those who have experienced homelessness with mental health issues currently at the Missionaries of Charity (MOC), Kolkatta) where she is involved in rehabilitation focused work. She participates in various national level meetings to bring forth the needs of people with disabilities, including mental illness.

A contribution of INR 15000 per month will ensure that Lavanya is supported to implement her rehabilitation work in the Bangalore Beggars’ Home and Prasanna Counselling Centre. A contribution of INR 3500 per month will help Thiruselvi to continue to reach out to more persons with mental health issues and continue to follow up the people in need.

The cost of supporting one fellow (urban) for stipend, capacity building and field action project is INR 3,27,000 for a year

The cost of supporting one fellow (rural) for stipend, capacity building and field action project is INR 2,80,000 for a year.

The cost of supporting one fellow (urban) for stipend INR 15,000 per month or INR 1,80,000 for a year.

The cost of supporting one fellow (rural) for stipend INR 3,500 per month or INR 42,000 for a year

NOTE: If a person is inducted into the fellowship with relatively vast experience and leadership in sector, such a fellow would be designated as Senior Fellow, and receive the budgeted amount for capacity building to deploy as is necessary for their field action project.

If you would like to support a BALM fellow, please contact

Mirjam Dijkxhoorn +91-9789089990


Lakshmi Narasimhan +91-9940175915

For info on The Banyan and BALM….

The Banyan, established in July 1993, is a registered not for profit organisation in Chennai, India, providing comprehensive mental health services for most marginalised persons in community and institutional settings.

The organisation began as a centre for crisis intervention,treatment and rehabilitation of homeless women with mental health issues. Over the past two decades, this outreach has grown from overseeing rescue, recovery and family reunions of those on the streets, to delivering community based curative, preventive and social care services that close the treatment gap and address symptomatic incidence of homelessness due to mental illness.

These diverse projects have reached out to 5000 people approximately – 1600 through inpatient and rehabilitative services at Adaikalam, 1000 through rural mental health services and 2000 through rural general health services, clinical and social care schemes at Community Mental Health Programme (CMHP), 100 through long term rehabilitation options in the form of SHGs, Supported Housing, Community Living (CL) and 1100 through urban outpatient clinics at the Urban Mental Health Programme (UMHP).

Initiatives within projects span from inpatient and outpatient clinical services – medical and psychosocial, disbursement of conditional economic support in the form of Disability Allowance, day care services, employment facilitation to diverse rehabilitation options.

In order to scale impact, the organisation’s growth strategy has been to develop partnerships with government, civil society organisations, community based organisations, individuals and collectives, that lead to increase in appropriate and affordable services.

This expansion through adaptive frameworks based on successful initiatives is facilitated by a sister organisation established in 2007, The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health (BALM). BALM’s activities include training, facilitating adaptive replications and research into models of mental health services through partnerships with various stakeholders.

If you would like to support a BALM fellow, please contact

Mirjam Dijkxhoorn +91-9789089990


Lakshmi Narasimhan +91-9940175915