NIMHANS' Dr. Bino Visits Sri Lanka

Last week we were privileged to have the esteemed Dr. Bino Thomas of NIMHANS, (National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience) join us in Sri Lanka to provide extra mental health training to our team. Dr. Bino is well known throughout India as a mental health practitioner and social worker.

We first met Dr. Bino when we began running our Clinical and Ancient Psychology program in India. His jovial, friendly manner coupled with his incredible knowledge about all things mental health was an unusual and exciting combination and we are very fortunate to work with him.

Dr. Bino is such an integral part of our program in India that we wanted to give our team in Sri Lanka the opportunity to meet with him and gain some additional training in the process. We're passionate about providing as much support to our teams as possible, so Dr. Bino's trip provided an excellent opportunity to not only learn more about mental health treatment in India, but also to explore in depth how we can best work with service users in Sri Lanka as well.

Dr. Bino worked with our team for five days and began with a workshop about running sessions in psychiatric facilities in Sri Lanka; characteristics/behaviours one might observe, treatment options and how to deal work most effectively with clients where there is a language barrier. He then gave a lecture about the importance of psychotherapy - including a basic introduction to what psychotherapy is, some examples of its success and why this form of treatment can be as effective, if not more so, than medication for people suffering with mental health concerns. Psychotherapy is still in its infancy in Sri Lanka, so the team found this talk fascinating and informative. 

There was much to discuss about the practical application of psychiatric practices at mental health and special needs projects; including some examples of techniques and practical advice for staff at projects. Dr. Bino invited our team to participate in various role plays to demonstrate when and how specific anti-escalation techniques might be appropriate for different clients in a variety of situations and concluded with a question and answer session about how best to work with service users residing in institutionalised care.

Dr. Bino's final training workshop was about counseling techniques and theory and an introduction to psychological First Aid. These topics are particularly useful for the team in Sri Lanka, as often our volunteers are away from home for a prolonged period for the first time and need a bit of extra support. 

In between Dr. Bino's sessions, the team seized the chance to show him around Colombo and the surrounding areas. They even took him on a sightseeing tour to Kandy, where co-founder Yasintha, was born. Their travels were well documented with many selfies, which confirmed that they were having as much fun as they were learning valuable skills. Dr. Bino said he had a wonderful time exploring a country, which many wrongly assume to be identical to India due to its proximity, with such a rich and vibrant culture and that he especially enjoyed the food. No surprise there! 

We're already looking forward to Dr. Bino's next visit and if you're joining us on our Clinical and Ancient Psychology program you'll be meeting him yourself soon enough! 

Lee M