Bapu Trust

Bapu Trust (The Bapu Trust for Research on Mind & Discourse), a registered NGO based in Pune since 1999, envisions a world where emotional well-being is experienced in a holistic manner, in healing environments that use creative, non-violent, nonhazardous, playful methods, with every person using their own capacity to make choices. The Trust works with multiple stakeholders within the development sector, in areas that include disability, poverty and other marginalizations, gender, livelihoods, social justice, health education, and policy and law. 

Its significant research contributions include: a Mental Health Policy draft for Gujarat; books, reports, workshops and conferences relating to women, caste, culture and mental health; published papers on traditional and indigenous community healing approaches in mental health; papers on disability rights, law and mental health; collaborations with state governments and universities. Bapu Trust has hosted local, national and international training programs for mental health professionals, government agencies, family court counselors and judges, and primary caregivers, besides other constituencies. 

As part of its information activism, the Trust reaches out to the public at large, through its publications, posters, exhibitions, and newsletters. It has held three well-attended film festivals around mental health topics, and also created films and other materials for orienting families, neighborhoods, communities, and CBOs. The Trust facilitates the sharing of experiences and creative writings by users of its services, while its library-cum-resource center attracts numerous students and scholars. 

The Trust has spawned informal mental health collectives such as the Indian Women’s Recovery Movement, and The Red Door Project. Its annual commemoration on 6 August – the ‘Erwadi Memorial Day’ – sees many people come out on the streets with messages on human rights for the mentally ill. 

Bapu Trust has always straddled two universes of practice – non-medical healing practice and social justice practice. In building synergy across these two dynamic universes, the Trust rests firmly on the two pillars of contemporary healing arts and disability thinking –  Arts-Based Therapy (ABT), and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

Projects with MHI 
Bapu Trust has developed a “model” service program, Seher, that links development, disability, communities, and mental health. Through its 'Community Wellness Centers', Seher has been working in the area of urban community mental health, in collaboration with the Pune Municipal Corporation. 

Seher (which means Dawn) is a comprehensive urban mental health program that envisions sustainable psychological health through community development and aims to facilitate the creation of caring communities through multi-level actions, and a broad range of partnerships. The program builds on principles of social entrepreneurship to enable the full inclusion and participation of people with diverse needs. The underlying belief is that, just like money, or natural and other material resources, emotional resources may also be transacted across people and associations. 

The partnership with MHI entails upscaling and replicating the Seher model in five slum pockets of Pune city, with the active collaboration of the Municipality (Departments of Health, Urban Community Development, Disability).

The program will work with numerous strategies: multiplying emotional resources through the development of psychosocial support and caregiving networks, both formal and non-formal; provision of specific mental health and well-being services to address diverse mental health needs; partnerships with local government, non-state organizations, and community actors; preparing grassroots communities for care and support. Every service delivery component has a research component as well.  

Arts-Based Therapy (ABT)
ʻArts-Based Therapyʼ is a term that was coined by WCCL Foundation in 2001, to represent the use of multiple art forms (music, drama, visual arts) and their combinations in therapy.  ABT is the evidence-based use of art forms, integrated in a way to offer choices for people with mental health problems and psychosocial disabilities, to accomplish their own individualized mental health goals within a safe, recovery-oriented, therapeutic relationship.
Experience shows that ABT can be used to address the diverse support needs of persons with mental health issues and psychosocial disabilities, including high support needs during crises. It is considered to be a safe way of approaching deep-rooted habitual behaviors, and building insight, empathy, and connection among individuals and families. Being person-centered, ABT empowers individuals to become independent and active agents in their own lives and choices, rather than “beneficiaries” of some service program. ABT also enables others – family members, friends – to give necessary support, alongside other basic psychosocial interventions. In its ABT practice, Bapu Trust successfully uses an eight-point Recovery Framework, addressing multiple social determinants, and working on six main domains of personal experience (self, body, cognition, emotion, social, health, and nutrition). 

An ABT Certificate Course is offered by Bapu Trust. Bapu Trust’s ABT work is fully supported by MHI.

To know more about Bapu Trust, click here.