Case Study Highlights: The Banyan

When considering non-communicable diseases, what first comes to mind? Most likely, issues of heart disease and diabetes will spring up. But what about the often neglected but incredibly pervasive problem of mental illness?According to the WHO's 2011 Mental Health Atlas, neuropsychiatric disorders contribute to 13 percent of the global disease burden. Only 54 percent of 184 countries have community residential facilities, or group homes. Additionally, 23 percent of nations surveyed did not have a dedicated separate section for mental health policy outside of their general health policy.This lack of government attention has created a need for innovation within the field of mental health care, which we at The Banyan aim to fill.

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Article on Mental Health issue

This sudden spate of suicides and crime involving children and families, in recent times, seems to have gotten policy-makers, mental health professionals and the government thinking. Good governance and effective social reforms are indeed critical as are mental health interventions and life-skills training for children in schools. However, one cannot emphasise enough on the importance of random acts of kindness - small and spontaneous. Otherwise the problem always seems to be somebody else's. It's time we placed ourselves, not just the charismatic leaders and the government, at the centre of the problem and the solution. It is only then that we will own the world that we live in and that which we aspire to create.

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December 2009: BALM-UCL: Recent advances in cross-cultural psychiatry course

Attended by delegates from all over the world, the BALM-UCL course was another huge success this year in both bringing a new perspective to everyone's work and delivering the most up to date information on the topics set out. Topics included:

(1)  Recent advances in Medical Anthropology as applied to South Asian Psychiatry,

(2)  Impact of cultural identity, migration and 'notions of home' on mental health

(3)  Update on

a) 'Culture Bound Syndromes',

b) Culture & Pharmacology

c) 'Creative therapies' in South Asia,

(4)  Clinical skills in application of Social Science theory to the practice of Psychiatry in South Asia.

Read more about this in the November monthly report.


December 2009: Spandan inter-college competition

To raise awareness of the issues surrounding mental illness, The Banyan gathered together students from colleges in Chennai for a day of discussion, dissemination and idea generation. Students made some excellent suggestions to raise awareness of mental illness in the community that The banyan will be taking up over the next few months.

Read coverage of this event in this article from The Hindu.


November 2009: Launch of the Human Rights Cell at the Community Living Project

To offer residents at the Community Living Project the opportunity to air their issues about living with The Banyan, the project has launched a cell the same as that at Adaikalam. Speaking to an audience of professionals from both The Banyan and the community, clients gain a greater understanding of their rights and a voice to stand up for the same.

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October 2009

World Mental Health Day 2009 - Clients and care givers from 300 families gathered in a forum for the rights of people affected by mental illness facilitated by The Banyan. Here their voices were heard by the Social Welfare Minister and the Disability Commissioner, who both pledged their support for the mentally ill. The forum seeks to ensure the implementation of the Disability Allowance for those affected by mental illness, a benefit that will reduce the financial burden of illness on the whole family unit.

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Click here for Press Coverage.

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September / October 2009

North India Reintegration Trip - Six residents of Adaikalam made their way back to homes across India at the end of September. Read how volunteer Catherine from Australia found the group's trip to Maharastra, Gujerat, Punjab and Utter Pradesh.

Click here for the full report.

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October 2009

Balaji's Exhibition Debut -

Day Care Centre client Balaji had the opportunity to exhibit some of his artwork at Gandhi Jayanti celebrations. His work has attracted much attention, including that of Jullaha designer Jaya Pradeep who has used some painting as sari designs. At this exhibition, Balaji sold 4 pictures to admiring visitors to the Loyal Indian Friends Trust stall.






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September 2009 Monthly Report:

Interested in reading The Banyan's news in full? Look at the stats and stories from last month.

Click here to read the full report for September.

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In August 2009

The Banyan and BALM planned and coordinated the visit of a senior team from SRTT comprising Dr Gandavia, Secretary and Chief Accountant, SRTT and the Health Team of SRTT from August 30th to September 1st, 2009. The Health Team also worked with The Banyan and BALM towards preparing the logical framework analysis of tools and indicators towards assessment and reporting for SRTT.


The Banyan celebrated 16 years of its existence with a burst of festivities at the Protected Community at Kovalam on August 27, 2009. The staff and the clients of the various projects of The Banyan and the clients of the day care centre at KK Nagar displayed their talents in dance events and skits. Mr David Nash, CEO of The Banyan, presided over the function.

Click here for the full monthly report

  • The Launch of The Bread Winners Café and The Banyan Line:

    Employment is a large part of the rehabilitation process as it instills self - belief and respect into clients that have previously suffered intensely as a result of their illness. The expansion of Banyan employment options for clients continues and this month two new schemes were launched.


    The Bread Winners café is a small outlet selling healthy, savoury pastry and pizza to the children of Lady Andal School. The Banyan Line is a collaboration between Banyan clients and two of Chennai’s most stylish boutiques (Orange Harvest and Julaaha) whereby clients are trained and employed to produce quality garments, both western and Indian style; the shop is now open at The Banyan’s Chetpet office.

    Click here for press coverage: Hindu

    Click here for press coverage: The Times of India

    Click here for press coverage: The New Indian Express

  • Community Mental Health Project (CMHP):

    The centre conducted an integrated awareness campaign of The Banyan and mental illness in general for Thiruporor block that included a leaflet drop, a propaganda van lead by some of CMHP’s clients that are now active volunteers for the cause and a local cable TV advert targeting the residents of Thiruporur block.

    Click here for more information

  • Adaikalam’s Rehabilitation and After Care Team:

    A reintegration trip around Tamil Nadu was conducted in which 4 successful family reunions were made. These trips are a unique and important part of The Banyan’s work; taking residents home to their families, who in some instances have lost hope of their return, is a hugely boosting part of their rehabilitation – if successful their lives are positively changed for good.

    Click here for the full report

  • Adaikalam’s Clinical Team:

    Continued visits to Puzhal Central Prison in Chennai, providing psychiatric assistance to inmates. This month, 8 individuals were assessed and one was referred for consultation with a Psychiatrist and Therapist.

  • The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health (BALM):

    A fact finding mission on the availability of Psychiatric services throughout India began with an investigative trip two employees visited Thanjavur. This expedition is to form the foundation of the Rapid Expansion Plan to increase services or people with mental illness.

  • The Banyan's new CEO, David Nash, takes his seat in Chennai:

    A new era has begun at The Banyan, spearheaded by a new CEO, David Nash. Associated with The Banyan for the past five years as part of his role as a funder at Zurich Financial Services, David brings with him not just experience and drive but his whole family, relocated from the UK. This demonstrates his commitment to the cause and his implementation marks the beginning of a new part of The Banyan journey - forging an independent path that establishes it as an enduring organization and force in the mental health sector.

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July 2009

A busy month of research, launches and anniversary celebrations for the whole team with each of the projects also following up on and implementing client-focused innovations. Other highlights this month included the following:

  • Adaikalam's Clinical Team:

    Continued visits to Puzhal Central Prison in Chennai, providing psychiatric assistance to inmates. This month, 8 individuals were assessed and one was referred for consultation with a Psychiatrist and Therapist.

  • The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health (BALM):

    A fact finding mission on the availability of Psychiatric services throughout India began with an investigative trip two employees visited Thanjavur. This expedition is to form the foundation of the Rapid Expansion Plan to increase services or people with mental illness.

    Click here for the full monthly report

  • CMHP Awareness Campaign:

    The centre conducted an integrated awareness campaign of The Banyan and mental illness in general for Thiruporor block that included a leaflet drop, a propaganda van lead by some of CMHP's clients that are now active volunteers for the cause and a local cable TV advert targeting the residents of Thiruporur block.

    Click here for more information

  • Tamil Nadu Rehabilitation Trip:

    The Banyan's aim is to reunite its residents with their families as far as possible as it has been seen that those suffering from mental illness are happiest at home in a nurturing environment. Sometimes full reintegration is not possible and this trip round Tamil Nadu showed the different responses (good and not so good) that returning loved ones receive upon attempted reintegration.

    If you are interested in hearing more about this process, or would like to sponsor a reintegration please contact anna@thebanyan.org

    Click here to read the full details of the trip

  • The Banyan and Chennai Trekking Club Trip to Nagada:

    Members of the Chennai Trekking Club (CTC) organized to take 20 Banyan clients from both Adaikalam and the Day Care Centre to the Nagada hills in Andhra Pradesh. After an eventful journey the group arrived at a small village to begin the trek. The hot sun was already beating down but everyone helped each other to scramble through forest and stones to reach the lunchtime pool. Here was where the fun really began with clients excitedly jumping into the water; fearless and invigorated by the activity. Tired and happy the group returned to the bus - all chattering and enjoying the experience.


    Days out allow the clients to interact and enjoy themselves in situations that they would not usually experience. Many thanks to the Chennai Trekking Club for organizing such a fun activity.

    Click here to view press coverage

    Click here to view pictures of the trip

  • The Banyan 16th Anniversary Celebrations:

    A glittering evening at newly opened restaurant, Crimson Chakra marked the beginning of The Banyan's 17th year. Friends and supporters of The Banyan's journey gathered to meet The Banyan team and enjoy a full evening of entertainment; a fashion show of saris, salwars and wester style clothes from The Banyan Line designed by Kamala Krishnaswarmy (Orange Harvest) and Jaya Pradeep (Julaaha) choreographed by Sunhil Menon and the launch of Mr. Vellodi's book (ex. Indian Foreign Service), 'Around the World in Eighty Years'. The tasty excerpts that were read were thought-provoking for all present. Everything was topped off by Suresh Menon's fantastic food and stylish setting. Happy Birthday Banyan!

    Click here for press coverage

    Click here to see photos of the event

  • The Banyan Begins Mental Health Module at Green Valley High School

    Part of The Banyan's Urban Outreach Project is about encouraging more people to understand and investigate their mental health - it is thought that you cannot start early enough with these practices of exploration and appreciation and it is from this stand point that The Banyan has produced a module for secondary school children in 7th, 8th and 9th Standard.

    Click here for full details

  • The Banyan Welcomes Supporters for Employment Launch:

    To launch two new employment initiatives for clients, The Banyan welcomed guests and dignitaries for a sparkling evening at the Chetpet office. Both initiatives provide opportunities for individuals that have recovered from mental illness to enter back into the mainstream by participating in gainful employment. The productive nature of this work elicits feelings of self-worth and self-respect within clients who have suffered much as a result of their illness, stigma and poverty; these benefits were evident in the smiles on the faces of all the clients involved in these projects that shone throughout the evening.

    Click here for full details

    Click here for press coverage: Hindu

    Click here for press coverage: The Times of India

    Click here for press coverage: The New Indian Express

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June 2009

Monthly Report - With last month's report writing completed and sent off, this month has seen the cementing of support from the Sai Healing Trust in Kovalam and the launch of a poignant Human Rights Cell at Adaikalam; a launch that inspired further consternation in the press about the issues surrounding The Banyan involvement in IMH, Chennai.Read on for more details or visit our articles section in the newsroom to read all the coverage of this dispute over the past 6 months.

Click here to download the full monthly report.

  • Launch of the Human Rights Cell:

    There was yet another landmark development at The Banyan on August 29, 09 when the 'Human Rights Cell,' was launched at 'Adaikalam' to address issues concerning 'rights,' of The Banyan residents at 'Adaikalam' and the 'Protected Community.'


    Human Rights at The Banyan acknowledges a person's right to live with human dignity, to privacy, health, holistic care, work, and, as far as possible, lead a productive life in the community. In addition, it also respects the preservation and enhancement of personal autonomy and self-reliance.


    Residents at The Banyan are entitled to a spectrum of services ranging from medical and psychiatric treatment and therapy to counseling to occupational therapy to vocational training and employment, and finally to choices of 'discharge' and 'rehabilitation'. The Human Rights Cell is in place to ensure that residents are happy with the services they receive and to encourage them to have the confidence to speak out if they are dissatisfied.

    The Human Rights Cell was inaugurated by Kanimozhi, MP and the committee comprises members like R. Natraj, Additional Director of Police, Sudha Ramalingam, Advocate, High Court, like-minded and reputed NGOs and members of the Banyan and BALM.

    Click here for Press Coverage from the Hindu

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May 2009

Monthly Report - Read about the goings on at The Banyan in May including the new training modules that have been implemented, the response to the Choolaimedu Slum fire and the evaluative activities under guidance of our funders.

Click here to read the full monthly report.

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