Our placements are not "one size fits all," but tailored to your experience and education level. If you have a passion for global mental health, and want to learn more about how cross-cultural factors impact mental health access and treatment, you're in the right place. By joining us, not only will you gain 40 + hours of practical experience and training, you'll also be completely immersed in the exciting, vibrant culture of Sri Lanka. Win-win.
In addition to being the only organisation on the planet that can offer you this amount of professional experience in such a remarkably beautiful place, you also get so much more than we could ever possibly list. But here's our best attempt.
✔︎ Over 40 hours of hands-on experience
This is not a drill. Depending on how long you join us for you'll be gaining a HUGE amount of hands-on experience. All project sessions are planned by yourself and your team and you can get as creative as you like with your ideas. Push yourself, challenge your ideas, try new things.
✔︎ Training, talks and trips
Your whole first week is dedicated to training you up to work as successfully as possible in a totally new culture. Local NGOs and mental health workers, along with our team, give you all the tools you need to be successful working in Sri Lanka.
You'll have the chance to take part in weekly workshops on topics like meditation, creative therapy, trauma from a Sri Lankan perspectve to help you in your work in Sri Lanka and beyond.
✔︎ Field trip with a mental health professional
There's also a field trip where you will join a mental health practitioner for the day to experience, first-hand, mental health treatment in another country and culture.
✔︎ An intensely immersive cross-cultural experience
This is work experience with a difference and that difference is that you're in Sri Lanka. From eating with your hands to taking cold showers, you'll legit live like a local. This is once in a lifetime opportunity to completely immerse yourself in another culture. This placement is not for tourists, but for people with a genuine love and curiosity for different ways of life.
✔︎ An education in global mental health
This point cannot be overstated. Many of us come from an educational background where we have been taught to think that "West is best". However, this placement will open your eyes and your mind to other ways of looking at prevention and treatment of mental health concerns.
There is much we can learn from other approaches and methodologies and the best way to experience this is up close and in person. No mental health system is perfect, but knowing this and challenging your own ideas of what you think treatment should be and what it looks like is hugely valuable to not only you, but your future clients.
✔︎ Weekends off
Yup! You have every Friday afternoon to Sunday evening to explore the width and breadth of this stunning teardrop island.
From elephant safaris to white sand beaches, Sri Lanka has it all and is waiting for you to get stuck in. I know we just said this isn't a holiday, but you'd be forgiven for thinking so if you've checked out our Instagram.
Sample Placement Schedule
This is a sample schedule only. The exact weekly schedule varies according to placement type and length, which you can find more about at the bottom of the page. Workshop and field trip topics are subject to change based on facilitator availability.
To take a peek at the schedule for a four-week placement, and get loads more info about what our placements involve, click the button below and get yourself a handy info pack.
From psychiatric facilities to makeshift classrooms in temples, our projects are as diverse as the service users you will be working with, who are all of various ages, abilities and backgrounds. However, all projects have a similar focus - to promote positive mental health as much as possible by boosting confidence, self-esteem and improving key life skills.
+ Activity Support (AS)
These projects take place in a clinical or community setting. Here you’ll be expected to get creative and really think about how best to help individuals who are all at varying stages of their recovery. Focus on a particular skill like improving short-term memory and form an interactive activity around this.
+ English for Development (EFD)
These projects take place in schools or vocational training institutes. English is a real commodity in Sri Lanka and you have the tools to help provide individuals with better career prospects and increased confidence just by speaking with your students! In addition to the practical side of English language teaching, there's also so much more you're doing.
When working in developing countries, seemingly simple, daily skills, which we take for granted, can often be overlooked, but should really be prioritised. According to a report conducted by the WHO, the skills often neglected in the developing world, but intrinsically linked to mental health are: decision-making, problem-solving, creative and critical thinking, effective communication, interpersonal skills, self-awareness and coping with emotions and stress.
In our experience, we have found that our EFD projects are a great opportunity for volunteers to role model healthy social habits and behaviours with the aim of further developing these skills amongst students and encouraging progression - both personally and professionally.
+ Children's Development (CD)
We partner with a number of children's development centres, primary schools and after school clubs to provide extracurricular English lessons. Our aim is to be role models, but not caregivers to children who are often marginalised by poverty and circumstance. There are also opportunities to coach sports such as swimming, football and cricket.
+ Special Education Activity Support (SEAS)
Alongside the psychiatric facility, you'll work in a number of schools and initiatives for those with specific needs. With an average of 26% of inpatients who reside in UK psychiatric facilities displaying overlapping additional needs, like autism or a brain injury, this is most definitely a client group you should become familiar working with.
These projects are challenging, but will put your knowledge of developmental psychology to good use. You can use a combination of physical and mental activities to really unlock the creative potential of these service users.
+ Community Outreach (CO)
These projects take place in the local community and have been requested by local community members. You could be running an after school club for kids aged 5 - 18 or running an English class for those aged 9 - 90! These projects mean so much that some people walk for miles just to attend.
For more details, including talks, trips, training, and the four-week placement schedule, get yourself a handy info pack here!
For the duration of your placement you're not a tourist in Sri Lanka, you live there. You'll be sharing a house, room and facilities with some of your teammates and will have the opportunity, through living with a local family, to really get stuck in and become part of the community. Your homestay will be located in the same rural area where you'll be working, so accommodation during the week is basic, but perfectly comfy and cozy.
Your homestay is located far outside any tourist areas or attractions, which is why volunteers head out on Friday afternoon to spend the weekend soaking up culture and comfort. Whether you prefer lazing on a beach, or climbing to the top of some of the most impressive cultural sites in the world, the weekend is your oyster, while your homestay family enjoys some well-deserved time off with their friends and family.
Breakfast and dinner are also provided during the working week and, trust us, it's YUM. Want to know more about where you'll live during your placement? Get more info by clicking the button.
Which Mental Health Placement?
Whether you already have experience in the mental health sector and are looking to top up your hours in a vibrant new culture, are seeking out your first opportunity, or are a graduate looking to beef up your CV before applying for jobs or further education, we've got a placement with your name on it. Well...not actually your name, but you get the idea. Click on the box that best describes you.