About Us

150 million Indians are estimated to have mental health issues, yet 83% lack the necessary care. In this low-resource scenario, socio-economic liabilities (gender, caste, class) render people with psychosocial disabilities homeless, with limited options of long-term institutionalisation or living on the streets. At The Banyan, we are working to change this scenario substantively.

Our Vision

“An inclusive, just and humane world that promotes capabilities and participation among persons living with psychosocial distress.”

Our vision is to create an inclusive, just, and humane world that promotes the capabilities and participation of individuals living with psychosocial distress. Our collective responsibility is to address the needs of those who live on the margins and provide them with the necessary support to lead fulfilling lives. With our commitment to social justice and human rights, we aim to empower individuals with psychosocial disabilities and promote their full inclusion and participation in society.

Our Mission

“Enabling access to comprehensive, integrated, person-centred mental health care for persons living in poverty and homelessness through culturally resonant clinical and social care pathways. “

We work tirelessly to enable access to comprehensive, integrated, person-centred mental health care for persons living in poverty and homelessness via culturally resonant clinical and social care pathways.  With over three decades of experience in the field, we have helped transform the lives of countless individuals and families nationwide.  Join us in our mission to create a more inclusive and equitable society where everyone can access the care and support they need to live happy, healthy lives.

Our story

Tracing our journey towards building better mental health ecosystems

In 1993, Vandana Gopikumar and Vaishnavi Jayakumar, encountered a woman walking in the middle of traffic on a busy road in Chennai. She was homeless with a mental health issue and visibly distressed. In their attempts to find her a safe space, they discovered that there were no services that acknowledged the needs of the marginalised constituency of homeless women with mental illness. Several more such encounters over the next few months left the duo disillusioned and the idea was born that they should do something about the problem themselves. This led to the founding of The Banyan on August 27, 1993.


Two decades ago, Chennai’s homeless women existed as an invisible minority.


Adaikalam (Tamizh for safe refuge), the first home

Vandana and Vaishnavi rented a three-bedroom house, envisaged as a safe space for homeless women with mental illness in Chennai


First Institutional Donor

Tata Trusts joins us as our first institutional donor


Urban Mental Health Program

Partnership with Loyola College Dept. of Social Work to offer clinical and aftercare services for the community



A Positive review from NIMHANS that led to the closure of gaps and expansion of services


DIAL 100

Partnered with the Chennai Police Dept. a helpline for homeless persons with mental illness was initiated


Rural Mental Health Program

Following the 2004 Tsunami, a program that offers clinical and social care services in Kovalam


Clustered Group Homes

A home-style facility was initiated for clients with long term care needs



The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health sets up a facility with a focus on training


Partnership with Puzhal Prison

Clinical services for people at Puzhal Prisons and capacity building on mental health for prison staff



300 individuals were trained on mental health across 12 panchayats across 3 districts in Tamil Nadu


Open Shelter

In liaison with the Corp of Chennai and HCL Technologies an open shelter for homeless men with mental illness was opened


Disability Advocacy

The Banyan obtained a license from the govt to issue disability certificates


BALM – TISS Partnership

Initiation of 3 Masters programs (Clinical Psychology, Applied Psychology and Social Work Courses) in collaboration with Tata Institute of Social Sciences


BALM – Sundram Fasteners Centre

In liaison with Sundram Fasteners Limited, a Center for Research and Social Action was launched


Kerala Chapter

Inauguration of The Banyan’s Kerala Chapter


Maharashtra Chapter

Inauguration of The Banyan’s Maharashtra Chapter


COVID-19 Intervention

-Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, The Banyan remained undeterred in providing comprehensive mental health care and support.
-ECRC scaled up in 8 different locations across Tamil Nadu.


Scale-up of HOME AGAIN

Inauguration of The Banyan’s Andhra Pradesh Chapter


Scale-up of ECRC

The Azim Premji Foundation and The Banyan, in August, launched Aladamara’s first ECRC in collaboration with HBS Hospital and Project Smile.


Scale-up of HOME AGAIN and ECRC across the country.

-Inauguration of Mental Health and Social Care Hub: Home Again in Tiruchirappalli.
-Inauguration of ECRC in Tiruchendur, Thoothukudi district, with R Soya Trust.
-We partnered with the Schizophrenia Awareness Association (SAA) in Pune to create a sustainable “Home Again” for mental health support in India.
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