Written by Chloe Nicholson, 2nd year BSc Psychology student
Throughout the summer of 2017, I took part in a 4-week voluntary mental health placement in Bali, Indonesia as part of the SLV Global team. This opportunity gave me the chance to learn about the different approaches and treatments for mental health issues in different cultures as well as gaining hands on experience.
When arriving in Bali the first few days are in a hotel as training takes place. You learn the cultural etiquette in Bali and what can be expected in future projects. The first week ends with an adventure break planned by the SLV team; activities include white water rafting and an overnight stay in the jungle. After this, a typical week consisted of support in various facilities running therapeutic activity sessions, taking part in teaching English and developmental projects for the community from clinical to classroom settings. All work changes from a variety of age groups and mental abilities. The final week was located in Java, involving working within a psychiatric hospital.
During my month in Bali, I was able to gain hands on valuable psychology work experience within the mental health sector. As well as boosting the resources, social interaction and stimulation for the mentally ill or disabled individuals living in institutionalised care without the same help they would receive in the UK. Whilst in Bali, all volunteers were placed in a homestay with local Indonesian families. This allowed everyone to fully immerse himself or herself into the culture and be welcomed to their way of life. As well as this, the weekends are free time for all volunteers to explore the island of Bali, relax on their black sand beaches, snorkel in the Indian Ocean or climb volcanoes with the local monkeys. The range of activities can be shared with the other volunteers from around the world, which has left me with life-long contacts.
The application process involved an online application which when successful was followed by an informal phone call interview. This process involved the SLV team finding out about any previous related experience I had and my interests in being able to take part. Although they ask for experience, this is a chance for students to gain volunteer work to set them apart from other candidates in their later career and so you may still be accepted without previous work if you express a keen interest. Once accepted, I had to raise money to pay for the cost of the placement. The payment process is supported by SLV who provides useful examples and tips to gain sponsorships, they also give lots of information about the trip before you go, showing it is worth every penny!
This experience has opened my mind to different approaches to dealing with mental health, and how non-western countries need more help. I would recommend this placement to anyone who would enjoy working with international patients in the future or would like to apply their general mental health interests to a real life opportunity. Further information is given on the SLV website where you can request a free information pack https://slv.global/ or check out their pages on Instagram and Facebook for the Bali placement or they also offer placements in Sri Lanka and India.