Communications Associate, BALM
A development practitioner for the last three years, Mahak has worked primarily in livelihoods & entrepreneurship in different capacities. A science graduate, she volunteered & interned with a variety of NGOs across sectors to explore diverse sectors and discover her strengths. She is a postgraduate in International Relations and Politics, and soon after her Masters she began to work in the development space because of her inclination towards building a sustainable & equitable world. Gender & Sustainability are two prominent areas that remain close to her heart. In her previous roles, she has worked in operations, content, and communications and has handled a diverse portfolio of CSR projects.
Dr Lakshmi Ravikanth
Engaged with the Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health since the inception of the organisation, Dr Ravikanth has worked with BALM for over a decade. A practising counsellor, Dr Lakshmi has developed a keen interest in adolescent mental health, existential therapy, ethics and gender-based violence among other things. She is a practising counsellor and provides supportive psychotherapy in addition to workshops on stress management, adolescent wellbeing and applications of existential psychotherapy. She has played an instrumental role in BALM in several capacities, from designing webinars on wellness to the ideation of grief & bereavement helpline guidelines. She has been part of ideation and implementation in several ways.
Dr. P Nalini Rao
Chair, Sundram Fasteners School of Social Work and Social Policy
Dr Rao has a teaching career that spans two and a half decades and has been with BALM since 2012. She also conducts social development research for industry and Governments, aside from being a visiting faculty for universities across the globe. She has developed a keen interest in adolescent health, social development & equity, and has also carried out research on similar themes. As an academician with extensive experience in mental health & social work, she has published papers in several national and international journals. She is also a founding member of the Institute of Sustainable Development, Veerapuram.
Research Associate, Centre for Trauma Studies & Innovation (CTSI)
A psychology graduate who has been interested in trauma, community mental health, and psychoneuroimmunology. She completed her masters in clinical psychology from TISS-BALM and pursued research in the LGBTQI community and trauma. During her masters she worked extensively with the LGBTQI community. She is passionate about research and aims to impact policy through her work. During her undergrad, she did a major in sociology and wants to explore how biopsychosocial mechanisms contribute to mental health outcomes in minority groups. She is a yoga enthusiast who loves classical singing and modern art.
Ms. Vijayalakshmi B
Admin Head, BALM
Vijayalkakshmi leads administration at BALM, and she truly is the very spinal cord of BALM keeping everything in place. Viji, as many of us dearly call her, is a Women's Christian College Alumni with a bachelor’s in psychology. She has worked with several corporates like Mahindra and Scope International among others in Human Resources and Administration. She has been with BALM for 7 years and constitutes the core part of the team. In her free time, Viji likes to volunteer her time with other NGOs and Civil Society Organisations in initiatives around the environment and sustainability.
Dr Archana Padmakar
Adjunct faculty, Sundram Fasteners School of Applied Psychology
Archana Padmakar has been with The Banyan since 2013 and joined BALM as faculty in the subsequent year. She has been an instrumental member of The Banyan and BALM for the last 7-8 years. This VU Alumna is the lead for the Department of Social Action and Research (CSAR) and has worked extensively as a Clinical Psychologist. Having completed her doctorate in mental health with a focus on ‘Developing A Framework for Adaptive Mental Health Systems for Homeless Women’, she outlined certain strategies for continuity of care for caregivers in India. Her clinical experience includes work in diverse clinical settings, scale-up of the emergency care, and recovery centre approach. Ms Padmakar also leads large components of research and service collaborations with the Governments of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Lt. General S M Mehta
Chief Executive Officer
Lt Gen SM Mehta has had a distinguished and checkered career spanning four decades in the army. A highly decorated soldier, he is known for his leadership qualities as he has handled a multitude of leadership positions at strategic, inter-services, and operational levels. A thinker and an eminent Engineer, he transitioned successfully to the social sector after his retirement in 2014. As CEO of The Hans Foundation, he led its operations with great vision and contributed to its phenomenal growth over the next seven years. He has served as member, Board of Trustee, BALM for the financial year 2019-20, and is now the Chief Executive Officer of BALM and The Banyan.
M. Namrata Rao
Co-Lead, Centre for Trauma Studies & Innovation (CTSI)
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 master’s 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 their 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.
Dr K V Kishore
A NIMHANS alumnus, Dr K.V Kishore has been working in psychiatry for the last three decades. Having worked in mental health during the time of a disaster, he has developed a keen interest in developing community models for mental health & incorporating life skills for health promotion. His contribution to the mental health discourse in the country is indelible, as he has developed life skills manuals for teachers to promote health among adolescents. He has also been part of the District Mental Health Programme (DMHP), wherein he contributed to the development of self-instruction manuals to strengthen mental health care. A prominent member of the faculty of BALM, Dr Kishore brings acumen & knowledge to the institution. He played an instrumental role in the formulation of India’s first national mental health policy.
Co-lead, Sundaram Fasteners Centre for Social Action and Research
She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology and mental health services research respectively. She’s held several portfolios in the past decade but holds her five-year stint managing a shelter for homeless men with mental health issues closest to her heart. Much of her learning comes from her clients, who were kind and patient enough to share their journeys with her and helped her to navigate her interests in working with vulnerable populations meaningfully. Her dream is to establish a recovery college and enable more students like her to benefit from peer-led education and research. She is currently a doctoral candidate at Vrije Universiteit is also the Director, Secretariat, Movement for Global Mental Health (2020-2023)
Mrs Madhuri Menon
A management professional with experience spanning over four and a half decades, Mrs Menon is the dean of BALM. A former trustee at the Banyan, she has been working with BALM as a dean for the last ____ years Mrs Menon has worked in a variety of prominent public and private sector organisations including – Bharat Petroleum Corporation, Indian Oil Corporation, Birla AT&T, Pune IFMR Trust to name a few. A trainer and an academician, she has worked as visiting faculty at Business Schools in Chennai & Coimbatore. People management & Gender are areas that pique her interest. She has been involved in research and has presented papers at national & international fora as well.
Mr K Veerapandian
Assistant Professor and Department Coordinator, Sundram Fasteners School of Applied Psychology
Mr Veerapandian has a prolific teaching career spanning over 19 years. In the past, he has served as an Assistant Professor of Psychology from Madras School of Social Work. His academic interests lie in qualitative research methods, Transactional Analysis, personality development, and stress management amongst others. He was instrumental in the development of Follow-up Counselling Toolkit Training Modules (Positive Prevention Tool Kit - PPTK) for Counsellors working in the field of HIV/AIDS and is recognized as a consultant and facilitator for the implementation of PPTK throughout India. He has been awarded a Diploma by South Asian Association of Transactional Analysts (SAACA).
Dr Lakshmi Sankaran
Chair, Sundaram Fasteners School of Applied Psychology
A counsellor and a mental health practitioner for 20 years, Dr Lakshmi Sankaran joined BALM in 2013 as the chairperson of applied psychology. The TISS alumna, Dr Sankaran completed her postgraduation in Medical & Psychiatric Social Work and has contributed immensely to the mental health & social work landscape through her research. Before joining BALM, she taught at Christ University as an Associate Professor for four years. Her academic interests include but are not restricted to family therapy, addiction, gender-based violence, and substance use. Dr Sankaran has been involved as a consultant in an HIV/AIDS project in Karnataka wherein she engaged in supervision, training & assessment of counsellors. Member of Ethics & Admission Committee & Visiting Faculty for Richmond Fellowship, Dr Lakshmi is known for her expertise in academics and research and has a vast body of research and published papers throughout her career. A trained psychiatrist from NIMHANS, Dr Sankaran has developed an interest in art-based therapy as well and has facilitated workshops & certificate courses including the International Labor Organization's S.O.L.V.E course.
Senior Research Associate, BALM
Madhurima Ghosh holds a Master’s Degree in Economics from the University of Calcutta and currently is a PhD scholar at a prestigious institution Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economy, Pune. Being interested in the field of mental health she is working on insurance, rather the lack of it in India. The banyan is the perfect workplace for her where she contributes to the research on mental health of the homeless in India and their economic aspect. She has more than 5 years of experience in teaching Economics at undergraduate level. She believes in holistic living and passionately practices Yoga.
Co-Lead, Sundaram Fasteners Centre for Social Action and Research
A former consultant with The Banyan, Marius joined BALM in 2021 as the Co-Lead for Sundaram Fasteners Centre for Social Action and Research (CSAR). A former social worker with experience of working with the county council in the United Kingdom for four years, Marius does bring an understanding derived from his experience and learning. The Psychology graduate is keen on understanding and developing models for Monitoring & Evaluation for healthcare, particularly mental health services. His key areas of interest are in management, research and creative problem-solving. With a Master’s in Business Management, Marius likes to take up new projects and streamline systems and processes for a more seamless implementation & operation.
Dr Ramesh KS
Co-Lead, Centre for Social-care Needs & Livelihoods | Assistant Professor, Sundram Fasteners School of Social Work & Social Policy
A social worker by expertise, Ramesh K S has been working with the Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health as an Assistant Professor for Sundaram Fasteners School of Social Work & Social Policy. Dr Ramesh did his postgraduation in Social Work followed by a PhD in behavioural psychology and has been with BALM since 2013. He has been a prominent representative for BALM in several conferences on social work owing to his multi-disciplinary work and expertise on the role of social workers in mental health care delivery. As a prominent name in mental health & social work, he has served on committees for some prominent bills related to social work, health & youth policy.
Lead, Monitoring and Evaluation
Abiram is the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Lead for the Banyan and BALM. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Loyola College, Chennai. He further pursued a master’s in psychology at the University of Nottingham, UK. He is interested in all facets of research within Psychology. His master’s thesis was in neuroscience – “Understanding the Role of Brain Oscillations in Visual Cortex”. Abiram is also a Data Science professional with a strong understanding of core concepts of Data Science. He has experience in using cutting-edge programming languages and algorithms of Data Science and Machine Learning. His background in both Psychology and technology has culminated in his current role, in which he is involved in streamlining Data Pipelines of Banyan and BALM. He is currently keen on exploring the role of Artificial Intelligence in the field of Psychology, Mental Health, and Health Care.