We created our Mental Health Placements because, as psychology graduates ourselves, we understand better than most how difficult it can be to source hands-on experience in the mental health sector.
Our placements are not "one size fits all," but are 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 a minimum of 40 hours practical experience and training, you'll also be completely immersed in the exciting, vibrant culture of Sri Lanka. Win-win.
The projects where you'll work are as diverse as the service users you'll be working with. From psychiatric hospitals and residential care homes, where you'll run therapeutic activities for those with mental health concerns or additional needs, to community outreach projects where you'll teach conversational English and role model life skills to youths or at-risk children.
No two days are the same, but that's all part of the experience. Our placements help improve your communication and empathy skills at the same time as making sure you leave Sri Lanka as adaptable and unflappable as possible. We know how key these qualities are to securing a future in the mental health sector. And what better place to fine tune these essential skills than on a stunning tropical island? Vitamin D included.
WHAT DOES A PLACEMENT INVOLVE?
We're exceptionally proud to be the only organisation on the planet that can offer you this amount of professional experience in such a remarkably beautiful place. Here's a snapshot of what you can expect from your placement:
✔︎ At least 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 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! Your first weekend is organised by us to give you the opportunity to get to know your fellow teammates at our Jungle Weekend. Then, you have every following 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.
You'll work at a minimum of six different weekly projects throughout the duration of your placement. From psychiatric facilities to makeshift classrooms in temples, our projects are diverse and the service users you will be working with are 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.
As an organisation, our focus is on mental health, not mental illness. This means all projects aim to promote overall well being and increase confidence, feelings of accomplishment, self worth and self-esteem. We know 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.
Your projects are split into five categories and you can learn more about those and check out a sample timetable below.
+ 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.
TALKS & TRIPS
In addition to your weekly projects, your placement also includes workshops and a field trip as standard. The longer your placement, the more chances to expand your knowledge with local professionals.
All our placements include weekly workshops, which can be useful both in Sri Lanka and beyond. We aim to expose you to local professionals who will give you a crash course in topics like meditation and creative therapy, which you can not only use with service users on placement, but also take home with you to utilise in your current or future work.
These opportunities are unique, as they give you an insight into other avenues that people may explore before seeking out more traditionally Western options, like psychiatry.
You'll get to take part in one field trip during your placement and this is your time to see mental health care in Sri Lanka up close. You'll follow a mental health professional as they work with service users and you observe. This is your time to take in as much as you can and to ask questions as you get to experience treatment in real time and from a different cultural perspective.
Your first week in Sri Lanka is dedicated to increasing your knowledge and confidence so you're ready to plan effective sessions and execute them at your projects. We understand that most of you have loads of useful experience already, but this training has been created to ensure you also work sensitively within the culture.
+ Working With Children
The Working With Children workshop is led by a former Director of Social Work in Sri Lanka with 20 years in the sector. The workshop covers safeguarding children, guidelines for behaviour management and examples of how to create successful activity sessions. Kids can be a handful in every culture, this workshop will help to make sure you respond to all situations appropriately.
+ Working With People With Specific Needs
The training for working with those with special needs in Sri Lanka is facilitated by a Sri Lankan speech and language pathologist. The workshop provides an overview of how people with specific needs are viewed and treated in Sri Lanka and how we can best work with these service users. We explore examples of activities to improve cognitive, motor and language skills as well as how best to work with the staff at the centres where you’ll be working. Even those of you with loads of experience will need to know how best to work within a different culture. Knowledge is power!
+ English For Development
This workshop is led by the SLV.Global team and includes advice on how to structure your lessons using the British Council resources. Don’t worry, we've got your back and you’ll never teach alone. There’s safety in numbers!
+ Sinhalese Lesson
We find it's best to get as immersed as you can as early as you can, so our team will lead you in a fun, interactive language lesson to equip you with some simple, key phrases to make your life easier when working and travelling in Sri Lanka.
Our fees are determined by the type and length of placement you choose - please click on each heading for a full breakdown of what's included.
What's Included in Your Placement Fee?
✔︎ Homestay Accommodation & Meals
You'll "live like a local" with a trusted Sri Lankan family, and up to 13 of your teammates, during the week. You'll share a room and facilities with your teammates and get the chance to really get to know your homestay family as they feed you up with breakfast and traditional Sri Lankan dinner during the working week.
Our incredible, experienced team will be there to support you the whole time and are on call 24/7.
✔︎ Training, Trips & Talks
All placements come with additional training, trips and talks given by local mental health professionals and practitioners. This is your chance to really get to understand mental health treatment in a different culture.
✔︎ Professional Reference
We are happy to proivide you with a reference upon completion of your placement. Our references have gone a long way to helping previous volunteers secure exciting career opportunites and you can see some of these success stories here.
✔︎ Certificate of Learning & farewell beach party!
To acknowledge your hard work and commitment throughout your placement we'll give you two certificates and throw you a party on the beach! One certificate is from us and the other is from Samutthana, the King's College London Centre for Trauma, Displacement and Mental Health. You've worked hard, time to celebrate you!
✔︎ Jungle Weekend
The first weekend is the only one that we organise for you. Think white water rafting, rock sliding and a BBQ under the stars. The rest of your weekends are free for you to traverse the stunning teardrop island as you wish! WOOT! Freedom!
✔︎ Visa Extensions
All volunteers staying over 30 days will need to extend their visa to a Residence visa. We will apply, pay on your behalf and the cost is covered by us.
From the airport to your homestay, to SLV.Global organised workshops and to the Jungle Weekend! Any transport outside of your usual daily projects is included in your fees. Daily journies cost approximately .20p each way on a bus.
What's Not Included?
Approximately £450 - £750 (depending on country of origin)
✗ Entry Visa
The cost of the Entry Visa is £45. You'll apply for this yourself directly from the Sri Lankan High Commission. Beofre any application, please make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after your return date.
✗ Travel Insurance
Safety first!! £30 - £70
✗ DBS or equivalent
Safeguarding our service users is paramount. Therefore all volunteers must provide a valid DBS, or equivalent, which costs £25 in the UK.
Please check with your doctor about recommended jabs/shots and remember to mention that you'll be working in a medical environment.
✗ Daily Buses / Tuk Tuks
Volunteers fund their own transport to and from projects roughly £1 - £2 a day
✗ Spending Money
You may want to just pick up a few souvenirs or you might want to check into a stunning spa for the weekend. Whatever your budget, Sri Lanka remains incredibly affordable.
Step 1: Placement Acceptance Fee: £250
After your interview, if awarded a place on our team, a non-refundable Placement Acceptance Fee is required to secure your place, which is payable within a week of your placement offer.
|4 Weeks||8 Weeks||12 Weeks *|
* Peer Mentors are required to join the team for 12 weeks and eligible for a further reduction of Placement Fees
Did you know you can fundraise for your placement? Have a look at our Fundraisers' Hall of Fame for some inspiration from past volunteers who have successfully raised the funds!
WHY WE'RE UNIQUE
+ We’re the only ones 🙋🏽♂️
We are the only organisation that can offer this amount of hands-on experience for those looking to pursue a career in mental health. We deliver what we promise and, if you don't want to take our word for it, then check out over 600 reviews on our Facebook page alone.
+ We’re focused on sustainability 🌍
We are focused on providing an ethical experience for volunteers by providing a consistent presence in Sri Lanka and not exploiting the individuals we work with. We don't take jobs from the local population and only work at pre-existing initiatives to bolster support for service users.
+ We prioritise experience, not a holiday 🏨
No #selfies, no saviours just socially conscious professionals.
+ We’re knowledgeable 🦉
We were founded by psychology students and graduates and we are invested in every step of your placement. The people you speak to on the phone, and who wrote this very pack have all been to Sri Lanka, lived in the homestays and know the sweaty bus routes by heart.
+ We’re responsible 💁🏽
We train you well. It is in our best interest to send only skilled volunteers to work in Sri Lanka and, although our Foundation Placement is designed for those with less hands-on experience, it is no less challenging. No matter your current skill level, working in a new culture is a whole new experience, and no matter your background, it’s important you be prepared to work sensitively within the culture, which is why the first week you are in country is dedicated to training.
+ We’re authentic 💯
On our placements you’ll live “like a local.” We want you to have a bona fide, immersive Sri Lankan experience. On all of our placements you’ll eat with your hands, dress modestly despite the heat, ride the local buses and live with an incredibly kind Sri Lankan family. We hope this is one of the reasons you’re looking at joining us and not browsing all inclusive holidays to the Caribbean.
+ We learn as much as we contribute 👨🏽🎓
Our volunteers gain as much from this experience as they give, sometimes more. Leave your Western expectations and ideals at the airport and open yourself up to an incredibly enlightening cross-cultural experience that can open your mind in ways you may have never expected. You’ll be glad you did!
+ We support you the whole way 👯
We have an exceptional team who are always available to help with any questions you may have before you depart and we guarantee you’ll only ever speak to people who have volunteered with SLV.Global before. Of course we’re always there for you once you are in country too. There’s an awesome support system available and we're really proud that over 80% of our team is Sri Lankan. No one knows the country like these guys, so once you arrive we’ve got you covered and are on call 24/7.
WHY SRI LANKA?
Sri Lanka, otherwise known as the "Pearl of the Indian Ocean," is a teardrop island with a heart of gold. But paradoxically to its paradisiacal appearance and chilled vibe there is turbulence in Sri Lanka's history. Still recovering from a 25-year civil war, and with the wounds from the 2004 tsunami not yet healed, Sri Lanka's population is in need of more psychological support than current resources can provide.
With few psychologists in residence, the primary method of treatment for those with mental health issues is pharmacological. Beds in psychiatric hospitals are scarce and although the community often rallies and aims to provide some respite for the families in need, the lack of formally qualified mental health professionals is apparent.
Our primary aim is to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and to bolster resources at preexisting initiatives in the communities where we work. Our teams work with local professionals to provide service users with much-needed stimulation and human contact to improve overall wellbeing and increase self-esteem.
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.
We also recruit Peer Mentors to join us for 12-weeks at reduced fees! Find out more about our opportunities here.