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.
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”
The Banyan has always placed its clients at the centre of the therapeutic process. In continuation with that trend, we began working collaboratively to revamp all our centres, to make them more colourful, vibrant and comfortable for our clients.
On March 1st, led by long-time volunteer of The Banyan and world renowned photographer, Christoph Von Toggenburg, we began the #JoyfulBanyan Project.
BEFORE – Reception
BEFORE – Reception
BEFORE – Terrace/Vocational Training Area
Colours have a strong impact on the way we feel and perceive the world around us. Research has shown that altering therapeutic environments to make them more vibrant and colourful can have positive psychological impact on residents, particularly in mood. It is critical that residential care centres exude a sense of warmth and friendliness, such that their external surroundings can also facilitate recovery.
Mr. Christoph Von Toggenburg led several discussions with staff, students of The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health (BALM) and residents of The Banyan on what helps them feel more at home and comfortable in a mental health centre.
We reimagined our reception space with bright colours and warm lighting. The students embellished the space with illustrations of nature: radiant birds and lush trees.
BALM Student creating a tree in the reception
BALM students paint the bricks on the terrace
Upstairs in our terrace, where many of our clients engage in vocational training on a daily basis, they worked on red bricks were transformed into a polychromatic puzzle.
This project will continue for the next 6 months as we reimagine the spaces across our centres, culminating on World Mental Health Day in October. Considering we are working with the Government as technical advisors for mental health centres, we hope that this is one of many ways by which we can be examples of changing the way built environments in mental health centres are created.
The chief guest of this initiation was renowned celebrity photographer G. VenketRam, a long-time supporter and volunteer of The Banyan. We also announced a brand new social media campaign, #1in4 – telling stories of the fierce and resilient individuals we’ve had the opportunity to know, raising awareness on the plight of homeless individuals with mental health issues who emerge from distress with new found strength and fervour for life.
We invite you to participate in this campaign by sharing your personal experiences, encounters, and viewpoints with homelessness, grit and mental illness with the hashtag #1in4
You can also participate by volunteering your time to help us with the revamp or through any of our other volunteer drives .
The Banyan is a Chennai based NGO working for persons with mental health concerns, offering a range of services through its different projects. The Banyan, in association with the Corporation of Chennai and the HCL Technologies foundation runs a shelter for homeless men with psychosocial disabilities in Santhome, Chennai.
And this is where we need your help!
Naushad, a resident of the shelter for the last year, has had to endure several hardships to set up his little ‘Recharge Booth’ just outside the shelter. Over the last few months, this booth that Naushad single handedly runs has become the neighborhood hub for all kinds of phone and set-top box recharge. Noticing his keen business acumen, we at the Banyan pushed Naushad to move out of his comfort zone and urged him to realize his potential. In a matter of two weeks, Naushad has found a shop space that he would like to rent, sourced a broken down photo-copier (that needs repair), and is now ready to take on new challenges.
A rally condemning violations against persons with mental illness, that unfortunately still continue to occur thirteen years after the Erwadi tragedy, was led by over 100 students of the South India Para-Medical Institute in Choolaimedu.