The Banyan was founded in August 1993, when Vandana and Vaishnavi, 2 students in Chennai, rushed to the aid of a homeless, destitute young woman, who was wandering, disorientated in the traffic of a very busy road. Their human response has been the bedrock on which the organisation has flourished ever since. 

The Banyan operates through a wellness and development lens and works to alleviate distress, improve quality of life, promote personal recovery, personal growth and the realisation of individual potential. From humble beginnings in a rented apartment services have evolved to provide this comprehensive approach to tackling mental health, which serves as a model for others. Read more


Adaikalam - The Transit Care Centre

The Transit Care Centre is a purpose built 160 bed mental health hospital. With the client at the centre of decisions about her care, Adaikalam rescues, works with clients on recovery and seeks rehabilitation into mainstream society. Since inception it has worked with over 2,000 women with more than 60% reunited with family.

Alternative Living Spaces

Where it is not possible to reunite clients with families, The Banyan has developed opportunities for small groups of recovered residents to live together in group homes, supporting each other.

Community Living

For some clients, recovery is a very long term process. Many years on the streets and old age mean that external support is often difficult to establish. Many cannot return home – they have often lost all memory of where home even is. The Protected Community is designed to provide around 60 clients with their own community facilities.

Urban Mental Health Program (UMHP)

Since 2002, The Banyan has operated out-patient clinics in Chennai, working in partnership with government to provide this valuable service. In a 2012 development, this collaborative model was extended to providing an open shelter to start support for destitute men with mental health issues.

Rural Mental Health Program (RMHP)

In 2005, following the Boxing Day Tsunami, The Banyan extended their services to a rural area. Based in the heart of the community, the Health Centre offers outpatient services, a day care centre and vocational training for the community. In 2013, the model was taken into the government’s Primary Health Centre in a neighbouring area to complement their general health services.

Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health (BALM)

Founded in 2007 to address the shortage of trained personnel working in Mental Health, BALM offers a range of training for professionals, as well as a Master’s Programme, run in collaboration with VU Amsterdam and Tata Institute of Social Sciences. It also conducts a range of research to influence policy across the country.