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 in India, not only will you gain a minimum of 40 hours’ practical experience and training, you'll also be able to put your own stamp on our pilot placement in India, all the while being completely immersed in its exciting, vibrant culture!
Our Mental Health placement in India is a pilot placement, which takes place in Mysore, and has a real focus on community mental health.
As with all our Mental Health Placements, you will have the opportunity to work in a range of settings from the only psychiatric unit in Mysore, schools for children with specific needs and elderly care homes. The work we do at the psychiatric facility will primarily be done with service users waiting to see the doctors, as the clinic is so small most wait outside all day simply to be seen. You will be working on projects as Activity Support Workers and also teaching English in the community.
In addition to being the only organisation on the planet that can offer you this amount of professional experience in such a remarkably captivating 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. While on the 4 week placement, 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 India.
You'll have the chance to take part in weekly workshops on topics like meditation, creative therapy, trauma from an Indian perspective to help you in your work in India and beyond.
✔︎ An intensely immersive cross-cultural experience
This is work experience with a difference and that difference is that you're in India. From drinking from coconuts to taking cold showers, you'll legit live like a local. This is a 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 free to explore the width and breadth of this stunning country.
From exciting city tours to calming countrysides, India 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
Once you arrive in Bangalore, your first few days will be spent acclimatising to the time difference and balmy Indian climate in the stunning School of Ancient Wisdom. Here you'll take part in training and workshops led by the SLV.India team, as well as local professionals keen to give you an insight into mental health treatment in India to get you prepped for the hard work ahead!
At the latter part of the week, we'll take you to Mysore and you'll have time to settle in before heading off to the Indian jungle. Here you'll get the chance to make and race your own raft as well as taking part in various team building activities before you set off for your first weekend in India!
This is a sample schedule only. As this is a pilot placement, workshop and field trip topics are subject to change based on facilitator availability.
You'll work at a minimum of six different weekly projects throughout the duration of your placement. From psychiatric facilities to working in local schools in need of extra support, our projects are diverse but all have a similar focus - to promote positive mental health as much as possible by boosting confidence, self-esteem and improving key life skills.
As an organisation, our focus is on mental health, rather than mental illness. This means all projects aim to promote overall well-being by increasing confidence, feelings of accomplishment, self worth and self-esteem. Prevention is better, and far easier to facilitate, than cure. Especially in developing countries where there is such an obvious care deficit for those with mental health concerns and specific needs.
The service users you'll be working with will vary in age, background and ability and this is no coincidence. We want you to have a well-rounded experience that focuses on many elements of mental health treatment and prevention such as; education, stigma reduction, creative modalities, inclusion and role modelling.
Please note: the work we do at the psychiatric facility will primarily be done outside with service users waiting to see consultants, as the clinic is so small most wait outside all day simply to be seen.
+ 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 India 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.
During your placement, you'll be staying in shared accommodation with other volunteers arranged by our local NGO partners whose ethos is very much in line with ours. This lush, green space boasts an epic rooftop for yoga and plenty of little nooks to chill and grab some "me time". Their team will provide you with a delicious local breakfast and dinner during the working week. YUM!
If you'd like to stay with a friend we'll do our best to room you together. But remember, even if you get split up, you are in the same shared accommodation.
Accommodation is provided Monday to Friday and weekends are yours to hit the road or the temples...whatever floats your boat with whomever you choose! You will have Friday afternoon to Sunday evening free to explore, so make the most of your time in stunning India.