Scrapbook: My Indian Adventure: Volunteering in a Mental Health Hospital

It's the weekend! Oh wait..

I've nearly finished my first week at Antara (I work Saturdays) and I've got into my routine now:

Breakfast is at 8.30am even on Sundays(!) Which involves bread and peanut butter that I brought. Not too exciting but at least I'm excused from eating curry.

I visit a ward from 9.30-12 then 2.30-4 meeting my volunteer coordinator each morning for a brief. Lunch and dinner are normally rice and dahl (a lentil sauce) with as many other carbs as they can fit in, potato curry and chips for example. Due to my milky complexion I also get something a bit like cucumber.

This means my evenings are very long, and none of the girls living in my block speak English so I spend a lot of time alone. I'm currently researching for travels after my internship finishes and will start planning my trip to Argentina soon so I have plenty to amuse myself with. Also I'm planning to initiate a table tennis tournament to bond with my Bengali neighbours.

I've been spending most of my time with the female group home, the long term patients, joining in with the occupational therapy (sewing/knitting), arts and crafts Bengali style (drawing goddesses for the Puja festival coming up) and aesthetic therapy (traditional singing and dancing for their performance in kolkata tomorrow).

I've also spent some time on the chemical dependency ward sitting in on therapy sessions with the psychologist and learning about the stigma and what it means to have a mental health disorder in this culture and the treatments they use.

It's also mental health week as of yesterday (yes, a Thursday) so I went to talk on Thematic apperception therapy today, basically interpreting patient's interpretations of pictures. Of what English I understood it was very interesting.

Next week I'll be going to the outpatient clinic, and I'm intrigued to find out at what point they decide to admit people. I'll also be joining some outreach clinics in local towns.

As for tomorrow, I'm going to play bingo with the chemical dependency ward and then going along to support the women as they perform in Kolkata somewhere.

There's a lot going on, but with any developing country nothing happens too quickly.