Since 1993 The Banyan has been an integral part of the chain of care for people with mental illness in Chennai. The projects have changed the lives of over 5,000 people by providing services to support them in reaching their definition of recovery:

  • Care with a human touch: ensuring effective treatment with a model that combines medication and rehabilitation: psychological therapies, vocational training, occupational therapy and reintegration with communities.
  • Treatment close to home: to encourage those with mental illness and their care givers to seek professional help by making the process easy and accessible.
  • Assistance for the whole family: to relieve the resource burden of a mentally ill relative both physically and financially and to ensure effective care at home.
  • Understanding & awareness for change: sensitizing communities, schools, Panchayats, government bodies and other stakeholders to encourage a change within policy and civil society that allows those with mental illness to live lives of their choosing in dignity and respect.
Summary of relevant work: 

The Banyan addresses the issue of mental health among marginalized groups, primarily persons affected by homelessness and poverty. Statistics on homelessness in India from the 2001 census reported 1.94 million homeless people in India, of whom 1.16 million lived in villages, and 0.77 million lived in cities and towns. Mental health and homelessness are both underserved sectors in India, with insufficient state funding and attention and minimal non-profit engagement.

To address the lack of access to comprehensive mental health care in both urban and rural areas, The Banyan was established in 1993 to provide comprehensive services for people with mental illness living in poverty and homelessness and their families. The organization adopts a multi-interventional approach toward mental health, combining clinical services (psychiatric reviews, medication, counselling) and social services (employment, disability allowance, social benefits facilitation, education/health support).

The Banyan currently operates two programs in Chennai and Kancheepuram:

Urban mental health program

Adaikalam: A transit care center with 160 beds for homeless women with mental illness. Through a biopsychosocial model of care, Adaikalam enables various options for reintegration back into the community, including:

  • Reunion with family
  • Employment
  • Open cottage-style community-based facility
  • Group homes and supported housing for federated/non federated persons
     

Outpatient services: Mental health clinics are operated at four locations in urban areas: a transit center in Mogappair; a state-run resource center for disability in KK Nagar; a Corporation of Chennai clinic in Santhome; and a college in Choolaimedu. Services include:

  • Day care center
  • Home visits
  • Disability allowance
  • Employment/other social benefits
  • User-carer support groups
     

Open shelter: A 25-bed facility for homeless men with psycho-social disabilities, providing treatment and rehabilitative services run in partnership with the local government, the Corporation of Chennai.

Rural Mental Health Program:

Health center: Mental Health Clinics are run in tandem with General Health Services in Thiruporur Block with 50 villages. Services include:

  • 12-bed inpatient service
  • Vocational training
  • Home visits
  • Disability allowance
  • Employment/other social benefits
  • User-carer support groups
     

Community living: An open cottage-style long-term facility enables up to 60 women to live close to the community.
 

Rented housing: 22 women live independently in Kovalam, in rented housing, and receive additional support through self-help groups.

 

The Banyan’s diverse projects have reached out to over 4,000 people:

  • 1,600 through inpatient and rehabilitative services at Adaikalam (the Transit Care Centre)
  • 1,090 through rural mental health services, clinical and social care schemes at the rural mental health program, Kovalam
  • 87 through long-term rehabilitation options in the form of Self Help Groups (SHGs), supported housing and Community living (CL)
  • 1,140 through urban outpatient clinics at the urban mental health program
  • 60 people at the open shelter for homeless men
Address: 

The Banyan Adaikalam

6th Main Road, Mugappair Eri Scheme,
Mugappair west, Chennai – 600037

T: 044 – 26530504, 26530599
F: 044 – 26530105

The Banyan Community Mental Health Project

Banyan Health Centre,
2/242, Pillayar Koil Street,
Kovalam Village,
Kancheepuram – 603112

The Banyan Day Care Centre

Social Resource and Training Centre (SRTC),
Jawaharlal Nehru Inner Ring Road (Near to Udhayam Theatre),
KK Nagar, Chennai – 83

T: 044 – 24742479

Funders: 
Seeking collaboration with: 
Researchers
Policy makers
Country: 
India

People

Innovations and resources

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Home Again: Housing with Supportive Services for Women with Mental Illness experiencing Long Term Care Needs

Shared Housing in scattered neighbourhoods with supportive services facilitated by an on site lay worker.
Region: 
Asia
Population: 
Adults
Disorder: 
Epilepsy/seizures
Psychosis/bipolar disorder
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The NALAM study: Village workers promoting mental health

Emphasis on personalized and diverse social care delivered by grassroots mobilizers
Region: 
Asia
Population: 
Adults
Disorder: 
Epilepsy/seizures
Psychosis/bipolar disorder