Out Patients Clinics in the City
The Banyan works very closely with government departments in the city of Chennai to support the provision of mental health services to the wider public. In an innovative partnership with Loyola College’s Department of Social Work, started in 2002, The Banyan has been operating a weekly Out Patient (OP) clinic in the college grounds. This clinic attracts people from across the city and is supported by a small number of professional staff from The Banyan. The strength of the clinic is the engagement of a wide variety of volunteers – social work students, psychologists, alternative healers and lay people are the backbone of the clinic. Home visits are conducted between clinics by The Banyan’s UMHP team and a group of Link Workers engages with local communities, providing awareness-raising activities to promote the clinics.
Since 2008, The Banyan has also run a second clinic in the Government’s State Resource cum Training Center in KK Nagar, which also provides a day care and employment service.
Extending Support to Men in Dooming Kuppam
The Banyan’s focus has always been on homelessness and mental health as it affects destitute women. In 2012, working with the Corporation of Chennai, and with significant financial backing from HCL Technologies, The Banyan started working with men. The Open Shelter in Dooming Kuppam – right by Marina Beach – provides not only a place to sleep, get food and a bath, but also assesses the mental health status of clients and supports their recovery. There is a very strong link between poor mental health and homelessness and The Banyan is able to use its experience to provide appropriate interventions. The shelter offers Day Care and Vocational Training as part of the package.
The local community has been extremely welcoming of the work. In fact, the shelter is on the same campus as a local children’s Day Care (Balwadi) and mothers are very happy to leave their children there around men who otherwise would be classified as “strange”. This is a great example of how stigma can be broken down