The Centre for Trauma Studies (CTSI) and Innovation is a recent addition to the Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental health (BALM). It was created to address the critical need to incorporate a ‘trauma lens’ into mental health services and increase awareness on the topic amongst the general public. Our approach is rooted in research and evidence-based techniques, and our goal is to build an empathetic and resilient society. In partnership with IDFC FIRST bank, we have created a number of initiatives to address this problem.
We aim to create awareness amongst a larger audience through social media campaigns, newsletters and written publications both on print and online platforms. We believe that mental health services can truly be enhanced with trauma-informed care making practitioners more informed and empathetic. In addition, clients from vulnerable groups or those exposed to chronic or persistent trauma can truly benefit from this form of therapy as sessions are personalised and holistic. Therefore, we will create curriculums and facilitate trauma informed courses for health care professionals even at a grassroots level. We also set-up a grief helpline in partnership with National Health Mission to support trauma victims during the pandemic. Lastly, we hope to carry out our own small and large-scale research projects that contribute to mental health advocacy and policy, making mental health services more inclusive and equitable to all.
The CTSI is using the power of social media to spread knowledge and awareness on trauma to a larger audience. This is a recent initiative that only began in September 2021. While we have observed a steep rise in conversations revolving around mental health, not enough emphasis is given to trauma. We think it’s important for more people to acknowledge and know about trauma so that we can be kinder to people and more cognizant of our words and actions. We will be using platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook to curate content on everything related to trauma studies and mental health. Topics such as theories, history, statistics, vulnerabilities and trauma-informed care will be covered. Our team will be disseminating evidence-based research in a way that is accessible even to those who are non-experts in the field. This initiative will be especially useful for service providers, service users, students or anyone interested in the field. Furthermore, we also want to create a dialogue and a safe-space especially for trauma victims. Therefore, we highly encourage you to engage on these posts (like, share, comment) or even write to us.
Currently, we are working on a campaign for World Mental Health Day that explores ‘inequality in mental health’. Follow us on our BALM social media handles to know more on what we’re up to.
Grief and bereavement counselling helpline
Since May 2021, The CTSI has been actively engaged in training of young volunteers from psychology and social work backgrounds in grief and trauma related work as part of their ongoing GoTN initiative – Grief and bereavement counselling helpline in partnership with the National Health Mission, Government of Tamil Nadu and The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental health (BALM). So far, we have trained approximately 160 volunteers. We were able to reach out to almost 6000 members of the affected families, provide ongoing counseling sessions to 486 people, and conduct 38 debrief sessions with our volunteers. Out of these, there were eight sessions on trauma and grief. We continue to provide supervision and training to our volunteer with frequent check-ins with our clients.
Training for NALAM workers
At CTSI, we believe that mental health services can truly be enhanced with trauma-informed care making practitioners more informed and empathetic. In addition, clients from vulnerable groups or those exposed to chronic or persistent trauma can benefit from this form of therapy as sessions are personalized and more holistic. Therefore, towards the end of this year, the CTSI aims to pilot a training course on trauma-informed care for NALAM workers. This training program will equip lay healthcare and social workers at a grassroots level to incorporate trauma care into their practice. They will be trained in the necessary techniques both theoretically and practically. In addition, we will be creating a trauma manual that one can refer to, to improve their practice.
On 21st September 2021, Ms. Varsha Vinod, CTSI Co-Lead, conducted training for second year students at the Banyan Academy in mental health and trauma-informed counselling. This was a part of their paper in approaches to psychotherapy and counselling. The training included concepts and understandings of trauma, theoretical frameworks, counselling skills and therapeutic approaches. This training helped in sensitizing budding professions to understand trauma from a ‘trauma lens’
The Banyan Academy conducted an international training program for trainers in community mental health care for an NGO called SIJDA Foundation in Bangladesh. On 20th September, Ms. Varsha Vinod and Ms. Namrata Rao, Our Centre Co-Leads, trained the course participants in trauma-informed approaches. The training included concepts of trauma, theoretical framework, trauma-informed counseling skills and therapeutic approaches. The training courses was for 4 hours and consisted of approximately 15 participants. The session was very interactive and practically oriented.
Since May 2021, The CTSI has been actively engaged in the training of young volunteers from psychology and social work backgrounds in grief and trauma related work as part of their ongoing GoTN initiative – Grief and bereavement counselling helpline in partnership with the National Health Mission, Government of Tamil Nadu and The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental health (BALM). We are looking for more volunteers to join our team as tele mental health counselors for a minimum of two months. Proficiency in Tamil is mandatory. Those with masters in psychology/social work or with counseling experience are preferred. So far, we were able…Keep reading
Ms. M. Namrata Rao – Co-Lead
Namrata is a neuroscience graduate passionate about research in psychological trauma and developmental psychology. She began her career as a teacher where she worked with children from underprivileged communities in Hyderabad, India. She did her masters in the Netherlands and subsequently worked as a researcher in child nutrition. During her study, she used her experiences as a teacher to explore adverse childhood experiences and its impact on cognition during adulthood. She is keen on exploring the socio-political and cultural influences on trauma especially amongst vulnerable groups. Apart from mental health advocacy, she’s also an environmentalist and an animal lover.
Ms. Shagun Gupta – Research Associate
She has done her master’s in applied psychology with a specialization in clinical psychology. Her interests include trauma, community mental health, and how biopsychosocial mechanisms contribute to mental health outcomes in minority groups. She loves a good chat and desserts.