This summer, University of Salford student Rebecca Leeworthy travelled to Bali to bravely pioneer a Mental Health Placement with SLV.Global, a graduate-led volunteering organisation, which focuses on providing opportunities for psychology students and graduates to gain valuable, practical experience within the mental health sector. Although SLV.Global have been doing similar work in Sri Lanka for the past six years, summer 2016 was the first time volunteers were sent to Bali, Indonesia to work within the local community and provide much needed support for mental health services, which are often under resourced.
During her placement University of Salford student, Rebecca, and other volunteers from all over the globe ran therapeutic activity sessions in psychiatric facilities for individuals suffering from a range of mental health concerns. In addition to their time at the hospital, volunteers also worked at numerous government run schools and social initiatives for children with disabilities and taught English in the local community.
Today’s psychology students are all too aware of how important it is to gain hands-on work experience in order to stand out in an incredibly competitive field. In our multicultural society having a working understanding of global mental health is a huge benefit. The significance of understanding and respecting different cultures can’t be overstated if you want to pursue a career in psychology. Throughout her four weeks volunteering with SLV.Global in Bali, Rebecca has not only acquired much sought after experience, but also procured a knowledge of Balinese and Indonesian culture which can only be achieved through a completely immersive experience, which included living in a local village with a Balinese family.
Being part of a pilot placement in a totally different culture and country is not without its challenges. As some of the first ever foreigners to work in these facilities, the importance of delivering interesting and stimulating sessions for service users was paramount. Volunteers had to be innovative and creative in addition to drawing on theoretical knowledge from their studies and previous experience to ensure that the sessions were meeting the expectations of the staff and families of service users. Volunteers also had to combat a language barrier and live away from home in fairly basic conditions for a month.
The volunteers on this pilot placement pushed themselves and really lived out of their comfort zones for much of the week. The weekends, however, were a different story. Volunteers on the Bali Mental Health Placement had their weekends free to roam the lush, tropical island and uncover its many secrets. From water temples to monkey forests there was always something new to discover and enjoy. Volunteers climbed active volcanoes, slept in treehouses, learned to cook traditional cuisine and, of course, checked out the numerous beaches, which Bali is famous for.
It is largely due to the hard work and dedication of Rebecca and the team that SLV.Global will be returning to Indonesia next year to continue to run its Mental Health Placements. You can read what Rebecca said about her time in Bali below and if you have any questions you can check out our website on slv.global or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
“It’s very hard to put my experience into sentences because it was such a good experience. It was amazing getting the chance to work in a mental health hospital and getting a chance to be a part of an amazing culture was incredible. A real eye opener.” – Rebecca Leeworthy