Skip navigation

Northumbria student provides helping hand in Bali Mental Health Placement

6th December 2017

A Northumbria University Psychology student has completed a Mental Health Placement with a graduate-led volunteering organisation in Bali, Indonesia, earlier this summer.

Ellie Mcneany worked with SLV.Global, who provide opportunities for students and graduates to put their mental health knowledge into practice. Ellie, alongside other volunteers, worked within a local community to provide valuable and necessary support for mental health services, which are often highly under resourced.

SLV Global have set up mental health placements in both Sri Lanka and Bali in order to provide psychological support to those in need. This includes working with a range of people, from students learning English, to individuals residing in institutionalised care, with the aim of using diverse types of therapy and group work as a way to provide stimulation to the service users that they work with. SLV Global also run a Clinic and Ancient Psychology Program in India, which incorporates eastern practices in the treatment of mental health.

Ellie received information about the placement opportunity at a Fresher and Societies fair held at Northumbria University’s Students’ Union. She originally applied for the opportunity in 2016, but with such a high demand for places, Ellie had to wait until summer 2017 to embark on her journey.

Throughout her four weeks of volunteering with SLV Global in Bali, Ellie helped to run therapeutic activity sessions at numerous government run schools and social initiatives for children with disabilities as well as taking part in English for Development projects in the local community. She also had the opportunity to travel to Java (Beth, is this in Indonesia?)to work in psychiatric facilities for individuals suffering from a range of mental health concerns.

She said: “Without the knowledge I have gained through the various Psychology modules that I have completed at Northumbria University, it would have been extremely difficult to plan and pursue our own sessions, and the group sessions that ran with the service users. This is because each session had a particular topic or aim dependent on the needs of the service user and so this had to be planned accordingly and achieved using different psychological skills and therapies that we knew were associated with these topics.

“We ran a diverse range of sessions, but my favourites included working at a centre with older service users with learning difficulties where we played games such as dance imitation, where a person starts to move, and then everyone copies and it is passed around to different people. I also enjoyed working at a psychiatric ward where we completed different memory tasks and games, both on paper and physically with the more able.”

Not only did Ellie have the opportunity to work within a multicultural society to understand global implications of mental health, but she also gained a knowledge of Balinese and Indonesian culture, which included living in a local village with a Balinese family. Volunteers also had their weekends free to roam Bali, visiting water temples, monkey forests, and even had chance to check out the numerous famous Bali beaches.

Kate Mason, Relationships Manager at SLV. Global, said: “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 provided for service users 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.

“It is largely due to the hard work and dedication of Northumbria University Student, Ellie Mcneany, that SLV. Global will be returning to Indonesia next year to continue its Mental Health Placements for a third year running.”

Dr Libby Orme, Senior lecturer in Psychology at Northumbria University, Newcastle who is Ellie’s tutor also believes that Ellie’s time in Bali will provide a great benefit to her. “This work experience has given Ellie the opportunity to put some of the theory taught on the degree into practice, and in turn has allowed her to develop skills that she has then brought back in to her final year of study. In addition, the opportunity to travel and work in a professional environment helps to build transferable skills and enhance employability more widely, and so the benefits will extend beyond the degree programme.”

Ellie said of her experience: “I’ve volunteered in Africa a couple of times before in schools, but never something as involved and hands-on as the opportunity that SLV Global provided. I love care work and knowing that you could bring a little bit of happiness into somebody’s day, especially in countries that are so underdeveloped when it comes to services and facilities that deal with mental illness, is so rewarding.

“I would recommend SLV Bali to anyone wanting to gain hands-on mental health experience whilst also having the opportunity to live and explore the most beautiful country. The village and people are amazing, as is Bali itself.

“It is the perfect way to give a hand helping improve others’ lives whilst also enhancing your own employability by gaining both psychology work experience and clinical experience. Being able to say that you have carried out a mental health placement in Indonesia definitely makes you stand out from other applicants, – and of course provides the opportunity to make some friends for life with the other volunteers. Truly an opportunity like no other.”

For more information about studying Psychology at Northumbria, please visit:


comments powered by Disqus


a sign in front of a crowd

Northumbria Open Days

Open Days are a great way for you to get a feel of the University, the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and the course(s) you are interested in.

Research at Northumbria

Research at Northumbria

Research is the life blood of a University and at Northumbria University we pride ourselves on research that makes a difference; research that has application and affects people's lives.

NU World

Explore NU World

Find out what life here is all about. From studying to socialising, term time to downtime, we’ve got it covered.

Latest News and Features

Military uniform
Nursing Degree Apprenticeship shortlisted for national award
Simulated learning using virtual reality recognised as example of best practice in nursing education
Mothers working on the quilts at the community workshops hosted by the researchers.
Greenland Ice Sheet near Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
A three-year research project, led by academics from Northumbria University, aims to better connect the care system and expand it include creative health approaches such as art, crafts, sports, gardening or cooking to provide holistic support tailored to individuals. Getty Images.
Dark green fritiliary (Speyeria aglaja) is a species for which local extinctions have been linked to a warming climate. Photo by Alistair Auffret.
Bridget Phillipson stood with Vice-Chancellor Andy Long and Roberta Blackman-woods

Back to top