Psychology student Gemma Myles got the opportunity to travel to Bali this summer to assist SLV.Global, a mental health voluntary organisation
This summer, WIT Psychology student, Gemma Myles, travelled to Bali to work on 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 eight 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, Gemma and other volunteers from all over the globe ran therapeutic activity sessions at numerous government run schools and social initiatives for children with disabilities and took part in English for Development projects in the local community. In addition to these, volunteers travelled to Java to work in psychiatric facilities for individuals suffering from a range of mental health concerns.
Work experience abroad
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 Indonesia, Gemma 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 placement, which is still in its infancy, in a totally different culture and country is not without its challenges. As one of the first international groups to be allowed access 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 living conditions for a month.
Bali life and opportunities
The volunteers on this 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 volcanoes, slept in treehouses, learned to cook traditional cuisine and, of course, checked out the numerous beaches, which Bali is famous for.
Gemma describes the experience in Bali as a great one and says "I have made memories that will stay with me for a lifetime".
It is largely due to the hard work and dedication of WIT student, Gemma Myles, that SLV.Global will be returning to Indonesia next year to continue its Mental Health Placements for the third year running.