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
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.