The Banyan

About Us

The Banyan works in the rescue and rehabilitation of mentally ill, homeless women in Chennai, India. It runs a transit shelter and rehab centre, the only one of its kind in the country, that currently houses 280 women. Over 15 years, more than 1500 women have sheltered here and over 900 have been successfully rehabilitated in their families and communities across India. __

The Banyan believes in humane and holistic care of mentally ill homeless persons. Two young women who could not stand by and watch the mistreatment of a mentally ill woman on the streets of Chennai founded The Banyan, which now runs nine projects which reach out to thousands of people in need. Once the transit care was established it quickly grew to full capacity and there was a need for outreach and community work to prevent homelessness. Thus the Community Mental Health Project was started. To increase stakeholders in the development sector, in particular the mental health sector, The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health was born. Further, The Banyan has begun a social enterprise named Spice Route; a store and café, run by the Women’s Self Help Group, to earn a salary and raise funds for The Banyan. _

The Banyan still cares, treats and rehabilitates homeless women with mental health difficulties but it also uses this as a template to demonstrate to the government and other initiatives what is possible; that those suffering from mental illness need not be locked away, need not be a source of shame to their family and community and need not be destined for a life of solitude and darkness. The Banyan demonstrates that these same people who were once locked away, hidden from society, are entirely capable of recovery and rehabilitation.