"I would highly recommend SLV Global, the support before and during my placement was very good and I felt comfortable as soon as I landed in Bali. I gained experience working in different environments in the community, schools and hospitals which has been a great benefit to my CV. I have used what I have learnt during my placement and examples in interviews since I have returned home. The week is challenging but so rewarding! And this makes your weekends very important, and within a few hours travel from the village you can get to explore so many beautiful beaches in Bali!"
"SLV was one of the best decisions I have ever made! The work was really worthwhile and definitely aided my career thinking since returning from Sri Lanka!
You work with such a diverse range of projects on a weekly basis, I was working in psychiatric facilities, residential centres for children and adults who suffer from various special needs. You also are able to take part in various organised workshops and field trips that are run by local professionals. My favourite was shadowing a local psychiatrist as he completed his homestay visits around the community, it was a real insight into the different approaches and challenges towards mental health in Sri Lanka!
The absolute highlight was the guys I shared my homestay with, we didn't know each other in the beginning and we've all stayed in touch since leaving. At the weekends you get to travel and witness the beauty of Sri Lanka. We all want to go again!
I'd recommend the SLV placement to anyone who wants to gain experience working directly with people and to learn different approaches to mental health. The placement is well organised, the staff are really friendly and supportive and you will probably make friends for life!"
"I would recommend this to any person that had studied psychology and wanted to get more experience. I had never been to Asia before and I loved Sri Lanka so much. The projects were each so different and loved each one differently. Being at the psychiatric hospital was challenging but it was a really valuable experience. My homestay family could not have been more welcoming and though I did not like spicy food when I arrived I got used to it and actually started to enjoy it. The SLV team were great before I left and I enjoyed getting to know my supervisors and national team when I was there. Also since I have been back the team have acted as a referee for me for two healthcare positions which was really use. If you are thinking about doing this - you should."
"Changed my life! Best decision I ever made! I did the Mental Health Placement in Sri Lanka earlier this year and I am so glad I did. I was nervous before I left as I did not know anyone but after arriving I felt instantly at ease. The SLV team could not have been more accommodating and they did everything they could to ensure we were well supported. I loved all of the projects, especially the projects working with people with special needs, I did not have my experience initially but my coordinators and national team helped me out. It was great having weekends off to explore Sri Lanka and finally I got the opporunity to learn to surf! Could not recommend this enough!"
"I would not recommend SLV to anyone. They are highly unorganized and as a volunteer I could see how poorly they treat their staff. Because the staff is treated so badly with little time off and too much responsibility, the volunteers suffer. I was sexually assaulted on a bus going to my homestay from y projects. I was with several other people and "was doing everything right." When I brought it to the attention of my supervisor, she told me "I don't have time for this right now." Later that same week, that same supervisor pulled me aside to schooled me because she said she had heard " I was talking about personal matters with other volunteers. " all in all, I absolutely loved the work that I did there and want to go back! However, I would not recommend this poorly run organization to anyone."
Thank you for taking the time to write this review. I was so sorry to read about this experience. This is unacceptable behaviour and, again, I am sorry that you were on the receiving end of this difficult communication when you were already feeling vulnerable.
I would like to highlight that supervisors are also volunteers and that they do work hard, but that is no excuse for this behaviour. I apologise again for this experience, as this is highly unusual and inexcusable. I have been personally investigating this and would love it if you could provide me with more information. I'll message you privately.
"I spent 12 weeks in Sri Lanka on the Graduate Mental Health Placement. We spent our weeks working on various projects; a psychiatric facility, special needs centres, and teaching english at a temple and at a youth centre. Everyone I met whilst in Sri Lanka was friendly and helpful. I was in a homestay with 8 other girls and our homestay family was lovely and always had advice for our weekend travels. Getting to explore Sri Lanka at the weekends was great, it's a beautiful country with plenty to see! I would definitely recommend SLV to anyone looking to gain hands on experience in mental health."
"I had such an amazing time volunteering with SLV in Sri Lanka for 3 months!! It is such a beautiful country and I have made friends for life there, in the other volunteers but also in the homestay family too. I couldn't find the same type of experience here in the UK that allowed me to teach, and work with people with mental health issues and also special needs - I began my MSc shortly after I came back from Sri Lanka and having had that first-hand experience with Global Mental Health was invaluable! I would highly recommend to everyone thinking about applying."
"I did a 5 week Mental Health Placement in Sri Lanka. I felt like I was really immersed in the culture by living with a homestay family and I gained some valuable experience from my time in the country. I also really enjoyed the fact that I could go and travel with other volunteers on the weekends, there's so much to do in Sri Lanka and everyone is so friendly.
I volunteered in a number of different wards in the psychiatric facilities and I enjoyed teaching English (an experience I hadn't had before). I actually surprised myself and found this the most interesting part of the placement - having to think outside the box and keep people motivated and engaged to learn.
Since returning from Sri Lanka, I have finished my masters. I felt my experience teaching made me a lot more confident standing up in front of a number of people and presenting my dissertation. I have also worked in the NHS where one of the service users I worked with was Sri Lankan. We were able to chat about mental health from a different cultural and spiritual perspective and I felt my professional relationship with him was improved by the fact I had volunteered in mental health in Sri Lanka."
Hi Kit, thank you so much for sharing your experiences and congratulations on finishing your Masters! You were an awesome part of the team! Please keep in touch and we wish you all the best in your future career.
"I wish I'd knew where the money goes to volunteers pay. Someone makes a lot of profit, that's for sure.
One of the worst things was that I felt like being in a cult, getting brainwashed.
The international coordinators seemed to be mostly people who enjoyed their "power", bossing people around.
The "homestay" (I would rather say family-run guesthouse) was absolutely overcrowded (19 people), I haven't seen anybody who established a real relationship to a family member other than saying "thank you" and "that's delicious". Breakfast included meant you get bread and some slices of fruits - you bring tea, sugar, honey, butter, jam.. For dinner you bring sth to drink.
Calling a placement "psychology" placement when 90% of the time you do not deal with anything psychology related is a joke, or rather a rip-off. "Guided" psychology projects - there were no doctors you could talk to (except one field trip). You just do occupational therapy: crafts, dancing, singing etc. Can be wonderful, but if you sign up under the impression you will learn about psychology ...
seems to work for graduate students with no travel and work experience and who like to be treated like elementary school children."
Hi Liz, thanks for taking the time to write this. I'm sorry that your time on placement was not what you were expecting. We believe all of the projects where we work have a mental health benefit for service users. In fact, any question on the clinical psychology doctorate application can be answered using examples form the work carried out on placement and many previous volunteers have gained a place by doing this.
We also totally agree that the lack of mental health professionals in Sri Lanka is an issue, which is why we work there, but is also why we don't advertise any "shadowing" as it's simply impossible to do with the current resources. We're sorry if you were expecting something different.
And as much as we would love to house, feed, train, support and transport volunteer team members for free it's just not possible, which is why there is a cost, but we use our funds incredibly carefully and are constantly reinvesting in the communities where we work.
We really appreciate your feedback and are always working to improve, so we have taken your suggestions on board and appreciate you sharing your experience.
"I loved every minute in Sri Lanka!
I will be forever grateful to SL Volunteers for the amazing opportunity they gave me.
Lucy and Yasintha were greatly supportive and my placement was the most enriching experience I have ever had.
I loved the philosophy of SLV which discourages the awful concept of "Volontourism" and I felt privileged to give my little contribution to this fantastic company. I would definitely recommend it to anyone, and, if I could I would definitely go again.
Keep up the fantastic work!"
"A sheer delightful bunch of people to work with. Very well organised and an invaluable experience! Visiting people in the community who were very generous especially in their warmth in welcoming the SlV team. Highly recommend it!"
"This experience taught me a lot of useful skills.
This experience helped me to rediscover the beautiful country as being a Sri Lankan myself, I did not think that I would have new things to discover about Sri Lanka. However, I learnt a lot about Sri Lanka and the people of Sri Lanka whilst volunteering with SLV. During the weekend travels, you get to discover beautiful places that differ from one to the other, around the country.
The staff are very friendly, helpful and understanding. They will help you through the placement journey. Furthermore, though you receive a lot of help and guidance, the placement teaches you about the importance of teamwork as you plan all of your sessions together. This helps you to observe and learn at first, from the volunteers who have already been there for a while.
Moreover, the homestay families are very caring, attentive and kean to learn a lot about you! The families love to share their way of life and culture with you and are eager to do so.
After spending 12 weeks as a Special Needs volunteer/coordinator, I learnt a lot about myself and lots of new skills as to how it is important to be responsible, friendly and how important it is to really care about others. Furthermore, being on this placement taught me a lot about, how helpful therapy is as I do not come from a psychology background.
All in all, SLV really cares about YOUR experience and it also values teamwork, which combined together provides you a great platform to gain an absolutely great and useful experience in Sri Lanka."
"I spent 8 weeks in Sri Lanka on the Psychology placement and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone. I gained so much from working at the projects and also met some friends for life in other volunteers. I had never been to Asia before but I felt so well supported by both the National and International staff at SLV, it was such an incredible experience I wish it wasn't over!"
"I did a 6 week placement in Sri Lanka and was so sad to come home! I wish I had extended now. It's such great fun to do something completely out of your comfort zone. It was truly a great experience, the people, the homestay, the projects and of course - the weekends! Initially it can be quite daunting and overwhelming, but you soon get so wrapped up in the Sri Lankan way of life, you forget about all these worries. You are constantly on the move, which is great as it keeps you busy. The projects are fun - some more enjoyable than others. I was on a Psychology Placement and actually found that I enjoyed the teaching projects the most - even though that was what I was most nervous about. Have made some life-long friends and some great memories - thanks SLV :)"
"The best experience of my life! I got to explore Sri Lanka and all of its wonderful culture, whilst teaching some of the most amazing kids and adults I have ever met. I got to see how the other side of the world copes and treats mental illness and it was an unforgettable eye-opening experience, definitely one of a kind. I would happily volunteer with SLV again and would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a memorable opportunity. I couldn't have asked for anything more."
"I went to Sri Lanka during a career break when I wanted to learn something new in a field of interest and also contribute by doing some volunteer work. SLV offered both with lots of opportunities for lectures and classroom style learning as well as on the job practical exposure to the mental health field. Add to this the fact that you get to experience real Sri Lankan family culture with the homestays and a great team spirit with your fellow volunteers. I would highly recommend the volunteer program for those wanting to develop their own skills and cultural awareness while giving something back to a community that really appreciates every smile and effort you make."
"A really amazing experience.
Volunteering for SLV provides a chance to become part of a culture far from that of the UK. You get to live like a Sri Lankan and meet people from so many different backgrounds. Working on such challenging projects and being faced with situations that not many other people in the UK have been faced with, helps you to develop key life skills. For example, cross-cultural communication and resilience.
My points for improvement are that the projects can sometimes get a bit repetitive on the 12 week programme. It would be better to have a complete change in the monthly timetable, rather than just changing maybe one project.
Also the website needs to make it clearer that all the psychology projects provide Occupational Therapy experience, rather than clinical experience. And that you are given more teaching projects than psychology projects. These teaching projects are very enjoyable and beneficial but this point just needs to be made clear before people sign up to the programme. It also needs to be made clear that no matter how many weeks of the programme you do (4, 6, 8, 10 or 12) all the projects are exactly the same. I felt as though I was misled into thinking that the 12 week programme was distinctly different than if I'd done a programme with fewer weeks. And this is important to think about in terms of costing.
Overall, although there may be some improvements needed for the programme, it was a really amazing experience that I will not forget."
"An incredible experience! I worked on the mental health project and loved every second of it! SLV staff were always helpful and there to talk and answer any questions. Wonderfully professional people and a joy to work with. I would recommend this organisation to anyone looking for experience in mental health, I couldn't fault it."
"Great experience, learned so much in such a short space of time. The variety in projects was great as we really experienced a large scope of how mental health, special needs and education are run in Sri Lanka. Also lovely people and a beautiful country!"
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