‘Say it Forward Anti-Stigma Campaign’ September 30 to October 10

Say It Forward Campaign
To educate and inspire people to learn the facts about mood disorders and break the chains of stigma.

The Banyan would like to share this appeal from the Chairperson of the Program Committee of the International Bipolar Foundation.

“My name is Susan Berkowitz and I am the Chairperson of the Program Committee of the International Bipolar Foundation. A couple of years ago we launched our first annual Say It Forward anti-stigma campaign. This campaign runs to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week or Bipolar Awareness Week. This year it will run the first week of October.

We are trying to increase the reach of the campaign again this year, and are asking for help from our friends in related agencies, organizations, publishers and more. The campaign has its own website, which offers a pre-written message that users can send to their friends, co-workers, and acquaintances along with a request for each of them to send it on to their own contacts.

It is an important part of our mission to educate and to eradicate stigma. We would like to ask for your help with this. If you can share this information with your members, employees, whoever; share it on your website or in your newsletter, whatever applies to you, we would greatly appreciate it. I have attached an informational page.

With everyone’s help, we can stamp out stigma against mental illness.

Thank you.

Susan Berkowitz,
Program Commitee,
International Bipolar Foundation

Below is the press release for the Say it Forward Anti-Stigma Campaign:


(San Diego, September 10, 2013) — When it comes to mental health conditions, silence is not golden. Silence breeds stigma, and stigma hurts: it prevents people from seeking life-saving treatment and support. That’s why the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF) and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) have joined forces to promote Say It Forward 2013, an email and social media anti-stigma campaign that educates people about the reality of mental health conditions.

“Although much progress has been made to change attitudes about mental health conditions, many still acknowledge discomfort towards people with mental illnesses,” explains Scott Suckow, Executive Director of the International Bipolar Foundation. “These perceptions lag behind those of other health conditions, such as diabetes and cancer. Through campaigns like Say it Forward, we can separate myth from fact and help those facing mental health issues feel comfortable seeking care and support.”

The World Health Organization reports that 1 in every 4 people, or 25% of individuals, develops one or more mental health disorders at some stage in life. Yet only 1 in 3 Americans gets treatment. Among individuals with bipolar disorder, 25–50% attempt suicide at least once, and suicide is a leading cause of death in this group. This is a preventable tragedy because with proper treatment, individuals with mental health conditions can—and do—achieve their dreams and lead full, rewarding lives.

Say It Forward, established by IBPF, reached more than 10,000 people last year. In 2013, Say It Forward has a goal of expanding its reach to 20,000 individuals. The campaign will begin September 30, and run up to and include International Bipolar Awareness Day, October 10, 2013.

DBSA President Allen Doederlein shares, “The work DBSA and IBF do to educate and support people living with mood disorders is important and impactful—but it’s only the beginning. The Say It Forward 2013 campaign provides a vital next step, with a user-friendly and simple way to connect with a much broader audience, made up of people who may or may not have mental health concerns themselves. All of us, across the globe, need to be reminded that these conditions are serious and life-threatening, but also highly treatable. The first step to wellness is speaking up, and that’s what Say It Forward is all about!”

Truth has the power to affect change. IBPF and DBSA invite all to join us by taking a simple step—visit SayItForwardCampaign.org beginning September 30th through October 10th, and share the myths and facts of mental illness by email, Facebook, and/or Twitter.

The International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF) is a non-profit organization headquartered in San Diego, with globally accessible programs in over 75 countries. The organization’s focus is on eliminating bipolar disorder for the nearly 30 million or 2.4 % affected worldwide through the advancement of research, improving the quality of care and support and to erase the associated stigma through public education and advocacy. Services support consumers, caregivers and professionals and are offered free-of-charge. IBPF’s signature programs include Webinar and Lecture Series, Healthy Living with Bipolar Disorder book, Outreach and Referral database and the Mental Health Awareness Patch for the Girl Scouts of the Unites States of America.  For more information, please visit www.InternationalBipolarFoundation.org or call (858) 764-2496.

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) is the leading peer-directed national organization focusing on the two most prevalent mental health conditions, depression and bipolar disorder, which affect more than 21 million Americans, account for 90% of the nation’s suicides every year, and cost $23 billion in lost workdays and other workplace losses. DBSA’s peer-based, wellness-oriented, and empowering services and resources are available when people need them, where they need them, and how they need to receive them—online 24/7, in local support groups, in audio and video casts, or in printed materials distributed by DBSA, our chapters, and mental health care facilities across America. Through more than 700 support groups and nearly 300 chapters, DBSA reaches millions of people each year with in-person and online peer support; current, readily understandable information about depression and bipolar disorder; and empowering tools focused on an integrated approach to wellness.  For more information, please visit http://www.DBSAlliance.org or call (800) 826-3632.

Please share this information and if you would like to help The Banyan in the field of Mental Health please click on the following links:

Click here to VOLUNTEER!

Contact Fanny for more info: +91-9884008643. volunteers@thebanyan.org

Click here to DONATE!

Contact Swapna for more info: +91-9840135913. swapna.k@thebanyan.org



‘Madras Week’ at The Banyan

Ms. Archanaa's giving the introductory speech
Ms. Archanaa giving the introductory speech

“There is a Chinese proverb, which says that if you give a person a fish to eat, he can survive for a day. But when you teach him how to fish, he survives for a lifetime. On this note, I would like to talk about the very rich and wonderful experience of having celebrated THE MADRAS WEEK at The Banyan focussing on POVERTY, MENTAL ILLNESS AND HOMELESSNESS in Chennai. The introduction by Archanaa was short and sweet as she very clearly laid out the programme’s plan and topics of discussion.

Continue reading “‘Madras Week’ at The Banyan”

Dr Mini Rao, Psychologist, Shares her Experiences of Volunteering at The Banyan

Dr Mini Rao is a Psychologist who has recently started volunteering at The Banyan.  docmini1

She talked to us about her experiences with The Banyan family.

Mini had heard about The Banyan many years ago through her father-in-law who had donated 6 fans to them during the initial years of the organisation. He was very impressed with The Banyan and what they were doing in the field of homelessness and mental illness. Mini started volunteering at The Banyan about 4 months ago and when she first started she felt a huge sense of satisfaction at being able to help so many people who otherwise she would never have met or had the opportunity to help. Continue reading “Dr Mini Rao, Psychologist, Shares her Experiences of Volunteering at The Banyan”

Through the eyes of a well-wisher ….


Christoph von Toggenburg is a renowned photographer and filmmaker who has traveled across the world and has raised funds for several social causes.   He has been a friend, well-wisher, supporter, and much more to The Banyan, for over ten years. 

Christoph reveals a fascinating glimpse into his experiences with The Banyan…

When did you first come to India?
I travelled in 1996 for the first time for India. After having finished my monastery boarding school (high school) I wanted to see the world and one of my first destinations was India. Geared up with little money, a backpack and full of enthusiasm I saw beauty, drama and more than anything the crazy, warm colourfulness that has captured me ever since…some love never ends!

Continue reading “Through the eyes of a well-wisher ….”

Vandana Gopikumar receives Award from WHO-Swiss Foundation on Health!

Vandana receiving the award from Dr Saxena
Vandana receiving the award from Dr Shekar Saxena

On the 30th November, The Banyan had a visit from Dr Shekar Saxena, Director, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse of the World Health Organisation. Dr Saxena came to present Vandana Gopikumar, Co-Founder of The Banyan, with an award from the Swiss Foundation on Health in collaboration with the World Health Organisation for “Outstanding achievement in the field of mental health care”.

This award is given to a person whose efforts have led to a significant improvement of the provision of health care for people with mental illness. Continue reading “Vandana Gopikumar receives Award from WHO-Swiss Foundation on Health!”