About BALM

Founded in 2007, The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health (BALM) is a mental health and social science research and teaching institution, embedded in the philosophy of bridging the gap between theory and practice, focused on building skilled human resources, impacting service provision, and evolving effective policy directions. BALM emerged from a decade and a half of deep grassroots inquiry into mental health, poverty, scarcity and inequity, vulnerability and marginalisation through services offered at The Banyan, and seeks to overcome the tremendous knowledge and resource gap in the mental health and development sectors.


"An inclusive and humane world that is capabilities, justice and equity promotive"


"Enabling access to health and mental health care for persons living in poverty and homelessness through comprehensive and creative clinical and social methods and innovations embedded in a well-being paradigm, ensuring an enhanced quality of life - The needs of those who live on the margins are our collective responsibility."

Relying on the experience and wisdom of the people served, The Banyan developed a range of services and demonstrable approaches to care embedded in the values of social justice, agency and participation. The one single guiding philosophy is - to nurture individual capabilities, and support every individual in attaining their definition of personal recovery / aspirational state. These values are at the heart of The Banyan and govern all of its endeavours. In the process it expands and challenges boundaries, and questions the stereotypes and myths surrounding people experiencing mental health issues.

Given the nuanced and fluid nature of mental health, the mind, behaviour and society, one must strike a fine balance between individualisation and standardisation of services. As against advocating for scaling up models of care, The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health (BALM) seeks to leverage The Banyan’s experience and expertise as a thought leader in the mental health and development sector to diffuse and scale up approaches and values in care across multiple levels (individual, intermediary, community, organisational and governance), by using a three pronged strategy:

  • Building robust knowledge in the mental health and development sectors, and creating a repository practice based evidence emerging directly from individual narratives and experiences.
  • Diffusing core values in care by building a cadre of mental health professionals immersed in the principles of social justice, equity, and participation.
  • Liaising with multiple stakeholders (government, not-for-profit, civil society, and user-caregiver groups) to initiate, strengthen, and support the operationalisation of mental health services across the country.

BALM Mandate:

Systematic documentation and dissemination of information

To document qualitative and quantitative information on existing programmes, persistent challenges and successes in service provision etc.

Initiating and scaling up approaches to care

To collaborate with Governments, civil society organisations (CSOs) and academic to initiate and scale up mental health and social care services, based on principles of equity, justice, participation and the promotion of rights and personal recovery, for the some of the most vulnerable and marginalised populations.

Human resource capabilities development

To train students in mental health and development practice through education in the social sciences, such that they are equipped with skills and leadership capabilities to catalyse social inclusion.

Build awareness and enthuse public demand and social action

To stimulate and nurture user caregiver movements and community vigil systems such that positive mindsets are created.