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University of Warwick students head to Bali to pioneer a placement to help those with mental health issues

This summer, University of Warwick students Katie Voss and Ayse Allison travelled to Bali to bravely pioneer a Mental Health Placement with SLV, 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 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 their placement University of Warwick students 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 their four weeks volunteering with SLV in Bali, Katie and Ayse have 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 University of Warwick students that SLV will be returning to Indonesia next year to continue to run its Mental Health Placements. You can read what Katie and Ayse said about their time in Bali below and if you have any questions you can check out SLV on or email them on

“The experience that I have gained from working in Bali has been truly unforgettable. It gave me the unique opportunity to work with both children and adults with varying mental health problems.” – Katie Voss.

“I took part in a 4 week placement during the month of July. I would definitely recommend this programme to anyone looking for hands on mental health experience. I found the experience valuable and worthwhile, loved my homestay family in Tarukkan and had the most spectacular weekends with other volunteers around Bali!” – Ayse Allison.

Tue 11 October 2016, 15:12 | Tags: other