The Banyan


Country: India
City/Town: Chennai
Type of Site: Clinical/Research/Service Learning
Organization/Institution: The Banyan
Year of Study: Female MSII, MSIII & MSIV only
Dates: February and March


All students schedule an appointment with the CMHE Assistant Director of Global Health.

Application Procedures

Meet with Assistant Director of Global Health for more details.

Program Description: Since 1993, The Banyan has been an integral part of the chain of care for people with mental illness in Chennai. The projects have changed the lives of over 5,000 people by providing services to support them in reaching their definition of recovery.

The Banyan works towards a vision of a society that accepts the mentally ill for who they are and finds a constructive place for them, which is only possible if all elements of society are involved, aware and sensitized to the importance of dedicating resources to the care of the mentally ill and an effective model is put forward for care.

The Banyan undertakes all of these activities and has already made much headway in the establishment of models, the expansion of rehabilitation options, the development of a family support structure, the implementation of awareness campaigns and the networking and lobbying of relevant stakeholders to produce real policy change.

The Banyan has evolved to provide the full range of services required to get a mentally ill person, and their family, back on track with their lives and to apply pressure to change the current system.

The projects of The Banyan have developed to offer prevention systems, provide access to care and rehabilitation, deliver community awareness and instigate policy advocacy and research.

All driven by a belief that all are entitled to a life of choice, dignity and respect: ‘I exist therefore I am’, the philosophy. The Banyan’s current projects include a transit care center for women rescued from the streets; urban and rural mental health services; a long-term care center; an income generation and employment program for clients; and a networking and advocacy program.

As a volunteer with this program, students will work directly with Dr. Renu Weiss, an internal medicine physician and an alumna of the UTHSCSA School of Medicine, to assist their medical staff in their daily duties at the transit care center.

This includes conducting head to toe physical exams, developing and leading training sessions for The Banyan healthcare staff, shadowing at the community health outpatient clinic and interacting with The Banyan’s clients and staff to learn more about mental health and the challenges associated with providing high quality care for mental health disorders in India.

Students travel together as a team for a 2-4 week elective in Chennai in February each year. This is also a possible site for MSIV students enrolled in the INTD 7003 course who are interested in mental health.

Estimated Budget for 1 Month


Cost (USD)

Airfare 2,200

Accomodation, Food,

Miscellaneous (2 weeks)

Visa (6-month tourist) 76
Banyan Organizational Fee 500
Total $3,776