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