In The News
Rehabilitation services should be individual-centric: NGOs, activists
Dr Vandana Gopikumar, co-founder of The Banyan, a Chennai-based NGO working with homeless persons with mental health issues, says that apart from mapping skills of the person, access to all systems that the person interacts with has to be enhanced.
“Their access to support networks — including the whole gamut of family, health and social system — has to be improved. Besides, they should be facilitated with disability allowance and employment to earn livelihood.”
Compassion essential to handle mental illness
The Banyan, an NGO working in the area of mental health, celebrated its 25th anniversary on Saturday, along with its partners, supporters and well-wishers.
At the event, Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan said though the State government had formulated schemes in handling people with mental illnesses, working with compassion towards those affected gave more results to the efforts.
Government-NGO partnership key to better odds for mentally ill persons: Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan
Partnerships between governments and NGOs were the key to better the odds for persons living with mental illness, said Tamil Nadu Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan at Chennai on Saturday. The health secretary was speaking at an event marking the 25th anniversary of The Banyan, a Chennai-based NGO working on issues related to mental health and homelessness.
The Banyan, NGO working for mentally ill celebrates its 25th anniversary
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of The Banyan, an NGO that works with mentally ill and homeless women, three women share their success stories of rehabilitation and giving back to the organisation
Book lays bare tales of triumph over mental illness
“To us, this is very personal, because over the past 25 years, we’ve seen in the people we have served, not just suffering, poverty and homelessness, but also a sense of absolute grit and resilience to play many other roles – of caring, nurturing mothers, school teachers, social workers and management consultants,” says Vandana. “You hardly hear stories of mental illness being normalized or of this stereotype being challenged,” she adds.
35 years later, woman reunites with her mom
The Banyan resident has been reunited with her mother after 35 years, and the events that led to their meeting are “nothing less than a miracle,” said Dr Shanta, The Banyan’s consultant gynecologist and the person who made the reunion happen.
Vandana Gopakumar and Vaishnavi Jayakumar: Women who built a home for the mentally challenged
In this extract from Like A Girl, Aparna Jain tells the story of two girls, who broke rules to work with people with mental health issues and built ‘The Banyan’. There are 56 such stories in this new illustrated children’s book.
Changemaker Approaches to Mental Health
The Banyan’s efforts to decentralize care and include community members and local institutions include recruiting and training peer service providers, activating community level centers as hubs for social care, and utilizing active public places such as cafes, and tourism trails to challenge existing narratives of mental illness.
‘Snehakoodu’ becomes hope for inmates of mental hospital
A 52 year old woman, and a 32 year old woman were rehabilitated to long-term housing through the Snehakoodu program in Kerala. The women have been living the Thrissur Mental Health Centre for a number of years.
Woman from Kolar reunited with family after nine years
"Despite running away from home, Vijaya’s desperation to return home, to her children, even after all these years was evident to the social workers. “When a few of us from Banyan visited her on Friday, we realised how desperate she was. After speaking to her, we immediately got in touch with police personnel in KGF, Kolar, who went to her house and helped us trace the family,” he said.
Free breast alteration surgery in India’s Tamil Nadu: Is there a case for public funding?
An op-ed written by our co-founder, Vandana Gopikumar & head of the BALM-Sundram Fasteners Centre for Research and Social Action in Mental Health, Lakshmi Narasimhan
"Breast alteration surgery may make many women feel more in tune with the look they want for themselves, and by all means the option to make such choices should not remain in the realm of the rich. However, in a society largely shaped by a patriarchal order, where women often lack agency, promoting such an initiative as a means of improving self esteem may end up perpetuating sexist notions of the ideal female body."
These Kerala rehabilitation homes help people with mental illness integrate into society
Named 'Snehakkoodu’ (home of love), the rehabilitation homes have been set up by the state department of health’s Arogya Keralam project in association with The Banyan, a mental health NGO based in Chennai, and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).
A ‘home’ for those who cannot go home
On Monday, the pilot project titled ‘Home Again’ will go to the next level, when the Kerala government ties up with The Banyan for the launch of the ‘Snehakkoodu’ programme under the Health department across the three major mental health institutions in the State.
How an NGO is paving new ground in mental healthcare
Vandana Gopikumar, who along with Vaishnavi Jayakumar founded The Banyan and The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health, will receive the Penn Nursing Renfield Foundation Award for Global Women’s Health, on March 21, 2018. The award, which carries a $100,000 cash prize, is awarded for her work in helping women with mental health problems in India.
Lessons for a leader in health to be ahead of curve
Only one in 10 people in India has access to evidence-based mental health services; we experience an 83% treatment gap. It is now widely accepted that the interaction between deprivation and mental disorders is bi-directional. The government should adopt an eight point agenda that focuses on the person with mental illness and his/her family.
West Bengal woman meets family after 8 years
In 2014, when volunteers of Banyan, an NGO, rescued Khatoon from the Muttukadu bus stand, she had been sitting on the roadside, eating scraps of food leftovers.She was taken to the Banyan's centre in Kovalam, where doctors declared she was mentally ill, and provided counselling. Recently , during a spell of lucidity, she told a counsellor that her name was Mehasoosa Khatoon and vaguely remembered her address as Paschim Hemkumari village.
155 patients still stuck at IMH as TS lacks rehab options for mentally ill persons
Dr KV Kishore, director of The Banyan, a Chennai-based NGO working with homeless persons with mental health issues, said lack of rehab facilities in the community made reintegration with families or society a challenge. There was a need for occupational therapists so recovered people can lead productive life. “Besides, human resources such as social workers should be made available for rehabilitation and to integrate recovered people with families,” he said.
Knitting a safety net
Today, 800,000 persons die by suicide globally and over 1,33,000 in India every year. Among 15-29 year olds, it’s the second leading cause of death. Reasons attributed range from family problems and ill health to mental illness, debt, unemployment, failure in exams and relationships.