Emergency Care and
Our hospital and shelter based services are often the first points of contact for homeless individuals who experience mental health concerns.
Our centers include two hospital-based settings in Mogappair (Chennai) and Kovalam (Kanchipuram District) and an Open Shelter for Homeless Men with Psychosocial Needs in collaboration with the Corporation of Chennai in Santhome (Chennai).
Each center is unique, and offers a range of services that are customized to suit individual client needs.
Emergency Care & Recovery Center (ECRC)
Our flagship program that has been providing critical services to homeless women with mental illnesses since 1993
The Banyan’s ECRC seeks to facilitate and help each individual reclaim their identity and aspirations, right to agency and choice, and live a meaningful life - it is the starting point on their journey towards recovery.
The care offered is integrated, and seeks to promote clinical, social, functional and personal recovery. Care is offered by a multidisciplinary team that is led by a case manager.
Our first step after a rescue is to attend to the immediate physical and medical needs of the client.
Primary care starts with giving the rescued client a bath, clean clothes and food & water.
A healthcare worker conducts a general physical examination and checks for rashes, open wounds, maggots, lice, worms and bone fractures. In addition, she also checks the client for signs of Tuberculosis, Leprosy and possibilities of pregnancy.
Any medical emergencies are handled immediately by referring and transporting client to the nearest hospital.
Evidence based and disorder specific psychological interventions for clients in addition to:
- Psychometry and assessments
- Specific therapies (e.g. CBT, behaviour therapy, humanistic approach, psychodrama, psychodynamic approach, marital and family therapy, behavioural marital therapy, clinical hypnosis, sex therapy etc.)
- Group therapies for behavioural training and improving cognitive functioning
- Counselling services (for stress, anxiety, adjustment, anger management, impulse control, amotivation) for inpatient clients, reintegrated clients and caregivers
Medical and Psychiatric Care
Initial Medical and Psychiatric care
- Battery of medical tests, basic biometrics, screening for HIV, TB, pregnancy etc.
- Case is reviewed and diagnosis provided after one week of observation
Psychiatrist Rounds / Appointments
Clients are reviewed at least once a month, or on an as needed basis
General Health Care
Clients with physical problems such as fevers, allergies, growths etc. are taken for consultation at Sundaram Medical Foundation.
Clients who are under/overweight/diabetic are put on special diets.
Non-specialist health coaches form over 60% of The Banyan’s workforce, and are the backbone of our organisation.
These individuals work most closely with our clients and are trained in mental illness and on how to deal with mental health issues
Occupational Therapy is used as a form of therapy, both psychological and physical, while clients are also provided with rewards and reinforcement for their participation.
Vocational Training for clients who reached a productive level in occupational therapy.
- Open workshop atmosphere
- A range of vocations: weaving, tailoring, block printing, candle making, baking, domestic skills training, embroidery, etc.
- Focus on role performance, personal accountability and responsibility
- Positive peer culture, formation of affinity groups
- Financial incentives provided
Community Inpatient Services
Short-term inpatient care for individuals in the community who are experiencing a difficult mental health episode. Clients who receive these services are always accompanied by a caregiver/family member
Reintegration & Aftercare
Remaining in institutional settings for longer than this can result in a halt in functionality and a relapse in or persistence of symptoms. The homeless persons who fall under our care usually have homes that they can go back to, they just need a little help in finding those homes again.
Our social workers and reintegration painstakingly work to draw out details about our clients native home in hopes of helping them find their way back to their homes and families. In some cases, their homes are not far and we are easily able to locate their relatives. In other cases, they have travelled far from their villages and ended up in Chennai.
After being reintegrated, we maintain contact with our clients in order to ensure continuity of care.
Learn more about Reintegration and Aftercare
Shelter for Homeless Men with Psychosocial Needs
This homeless shelter, run in collaboration with The Corporation of Chennai offers services for homeless men with mental health issues.
Established in 2012 as part of the National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM), is a bright and peaceful campus located just by the fishing settlement that stretches across Marina Beach.
Residents are free to come and go as and when they please, allowing for a user-centric model of care.
The Shelter seeks to catalyse an attitudinal shift in the way society perceives and responds to homelessness. Our passionate volunteers conduct outreach programmes that inform homeless men in the Santhome, Mandaveli, Marina and Mylapore area of the many services the shelter offers, and encourage them to access those services if they want and need to.
Many of those who live on the streets, have done so for years and are not only accustomed to that lifestyle, but prefer it over residing in a home or shelter. We respond to the needs of homeless people with psychosocial disabilities who have yet to access care through street engagement:
- Establishing contact to ensure a support system even if they choose not to access institutional care
- Distributing food and various items on a daily basis
- Train volunteers who can engage in these activities in their own neighbourhoods to promote social mixing and acceptance
Open to both residents of The Shelter and members of the community
- Cooking Lessons
- Beautician Courses
- Tailoring Classes
- Carpentry Unit
Clothing and Hygiene Hub
Homeless from the neighbourhood access the shelter for clothes, footwear, or to bathe and brush their teeth. They may not necessarily want to stay at the shelter but they can come to the shelter to access the services they need.
Soup kitchen services are offered out of the shelter everyday. Homeless persons from the neighbourhood access the shelter for a meal if there is a need. Up to 10 homeless people access soup kitchen services on a daily basis. Up to 250 food packets are distributed on a monthly basis through soup kitchen services.
A few clients access the shelter only as a place to sleep. In addition, former residents who hold a steady job and do not have homes to go back to, access night shelter and psychiatric services. There are currently 5 regular night shelter residents, this number is subject to change, especially during the monsoons when there is greater access.
The shelter provides psychiatric & psychological services for homeless individuals with mental health issues. For those with severe health problems, they are transported to a government hospital along with a volunteer.
Through the shelter we assist our clients with:
- Procurement of govt. ID cards (Corporation Shelter ID, Aadhar Card, Voter IDs, Disability Card)
- Creating Bank Accounts
- Finding jobs and employment
- Finding alternate housing
Reintegration and Aftercare
Family reintegration or facilitation of other exit options is provided through the Shelter.
Learn more about Reintegration & Aftercare
One of the most unique aspects of The Banyan’s Shelter is its' community engagement through Youth Clubs, Education Support, cultural activities, and vocational training. At least 50 members of different ages access these services at the shelter.
Health Center (HC)
The Nodal hub for The Banyan’s Rural Mental Health Programme and a short-term inpatient care centre.
This programme was initiated in the wake of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami in response to the high incidence of PTSD and trauma in the area.
It is a place for those in the community to access short-term inpatient care, weekly mental health clinics, vocational training and even tuition classes. It is a community centre that is built on the NALAM approach to care.
Day Care Center & Vocational Training
Persons with mental health issues can receive vocational training during the day while their caregivers go to work.
VT at the Health Center includes a range of activities suitable for all sorts of interests and capabilities and also employs the day care members and caregivers for several tasks at the project for suitable remuneration.
Another vocational training option is offered out of the clinic sites on days in which outpatient services are delivered.
Trainers assist patients and caregivers in learning simple handicraft production and give them raw materials which they can use to work from home and hand over products on completion.
In some villages these groups have come together to form a self run kiosk whose members motivate each other to meet deadlines and help each other out in in case there are doubts. Products made are then marketed and sold by The Banyan and the service users involved are paid for their work.
Youth Clubs & Workshops for Children/Adolescents
As part of the outreach services, NALAM Rural works extensively with youth and children from marginalised communities and vulnerable backgrounds including children of parents with mental illness, tribal communities, dalit communities and living in poverty through various interventions.
Learning centres are located in 9 panchayats in Thiruporur taluk and cater to over 450 children, largely first generation learners, and helps them with finishing homework and preparing for exams and tests. Centre teachers are recruited from the same communities and villages and act as role models besides teaching academics.
The youth programme also provides a 'Stay-in-school' stipend to 400 children a year who come from distressed situations and communities, to discourage dropout.
Workshops on life skills and extra-curricular activities are conducted on a regular basis with external experts and training for parents and teachers being held periodically. Every year, children from different communities, that would not usually mix, are brought together for a cultural event focused on inclusion and breaking caste based biases and discrimination at a young age.
Social Care Facilitation
- Facilitations to access government schemes and disability allowances
- Link clients with other organisations and NGOs that may be better able to support their specific needs
- Housing renovation and rebuilding for flood and tsunami affected communities
- Emergency and crisis support
- Education support for children and adolescents
- Employment faciliation
- Job Fairs
- Pre-employment training
Psychiatric Outpatient Services
Outpatient clinics are held out of 3 locations in Thiruporur block, the clinic at Kovalam also has a general doctor who consults one day of the week and offers primary care interventions. The clinic team that travels to the various sites consists of psychiatrists, a psychologist, social workers, a nurse, vocational trainers and NALAM mobilisers. A spectrum of services are offered out of these clinics free of cost on a need basis and referrals are made for social care follow up and post clinic after care services.