Rural Services - Working in Kanchipuram District
The Banyan started work in a rural context in 2005. The Tsunami of Boxing Day 2004 had left a local fishing village of Kovalam devastated. Many had lost their livelihoods with some damage to homes and infrastructure. In these circumstances, mental wellness was a significant issue. The Banyan worked with the local panchayat (council) leaders and community elders to set up a clinic in the village.
From humble beginnings, with sessions conducted under a tree, the Community Health Centre emerged on its own campus. This centre provides a variety of community-based services.
By operating in the heart of the Kovalam community, The Banyan is able to raise awareness of the issue of mental wellness and reduce the stigma associated with it.
Every week there is an Out Patient (OP) Clinic, supported by professionals from the project. There are some options for in-patient stay (around 20 beds) and the principles of care used in Adaikalam are applied here. There are strong links to the state government’s Primary Health Centres (PHCs) for any physical illnesses. And in fact in 2013, additional OP clinics were started in one of the government facilities in Sembakkam to extend reach.
Day Care Center
Originally, the Day Care opportunity was a way to bring the clients from the Protected Community into Kovalam to aid their integration. However, the attendance has extended beyond this group and now includes residents from Kovalam too.
Vocational Training Unit
Started as an activity to aid recovery for Day Care clients, mainly from the Protected Community, the Vocational Training unit has expanded in recent years. Clients of the Day Care are taught a variety of block-printing, tailoring and weaving skills and use them to produce articles for sale. These articles can be bought at the centre in Kovalam, but they are also taken to exhibitions across the country. Sales enable the clients to be paid for their work. The unit has also reached out to surrounding areas to share their training and have developed a number of productive co-operatives, producing articles for sale. This is not only a useful skill development exercise and therapy but also a potential source of income for the clients.
The RMHP team provide a variety of additional support services. These include
- a home visit regime to ensure that wellness is maintained between visits to the clinic
- facilitating access to government entitlements
- providing support to children of parents with their own mental health issues.