Ashoka India is delighted to welcome Vandana Gopikumar into the Ashoka Fellowship.
When a 22 year old Vandana set up a shelter for homeless mentally ill women, more than 18 years ago, to provide care and basic treatment, she was struck by the realization that the problem was much deeper since India lacked an effective overall mental healthcare system. Furthermore, she saw that the homeless mentally ill required not just medical attention but a whole spectrum of healthcare and psycho- social services ranging from their rescue off the streets to rehabilitation to reintegration into society while ensuring a continuum of care.
Vandana set about creating community friendly, intensely localized full range of solutions for effective mental healthcare delivery to both urban and rural populations in Tamil Nadu. To ensure its spread across India in the most effective manner, she is widely advocating the replication of these models into the government healthcare systems. Building on this, she is seeking to transform mental health infrastructure, through policy reform, and is devising courses in partnership with Universities and the Government for the training and placement of professional and community based mental health managers across the country.
Through her organization, ‘The Banyan’, Vandana has designed a mental health care delivery system that is designed to address the complex mix of mental illness and homelessness.