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The Identity Inclusion Project - Develop Social Workers to Provide Psycho-social Disability Support and End Stigma

Identity Inclusion aims to develop social workers to provide support services to address psycho-social disability & stigma in Bangladesh.

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What problem does your idea solve?

Due to actual or perceived mental health conditions, many people suffer from psycho-social disabilities, i.e., those disenabled by their environment. The expense, stigma and lack of awareness regarding the need for help and where to find it is often a big hindrance in the context of Bangladesh. Currently there is no strong policy or institutional mechanism at place and therefore individuals with such disabilities continue to face high rates of exclusion from communities, workplaces and schools.

Explain your idea

The proposed idea is to institutionalize psycho-social support by creating a cadre of youth volunteers who will work in the healthcare sector by providing support services and creating awareness on mental health stigma in 3 major cities of Bangladesh- Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet. The program will develop a curriculum for intensive workshops on providing community based support to individuals with psycho-social disability. Experts in their respective fields will be recruited to cohesively prepare the curriculum which will address Basic Psycho-social and Counselling Communication Skills, national laws on disability and mental health, Bio-power and Powerplay, and basic Occupational Therapy. After the curriculum has been prepared, the program will recruit 100 individuals with a background in Developmental Studies, Social Work, Psychology, Public Health and related fields. A 6-day Training of Trainer (TOT) will be given to 10 selected, who will then provide the remaining 90 with a 2-day training using the curriculum to become certified psycho-social support volunteers. The 10 who have been given the TOT will become Program Managers (PM) for their respective cities. All those trained will then provide services to clients as part of Identity Inclusion by doing following: •Identify needs and facilitate access to services •Advocate for inclusion •Capacity Building of different stakeholders •Find appropriate, psycho-social disability friendly employment and recreation

Who benefits?

1) Persons & families of persons with mental health issues, intellectual & learning disabilities, autism, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, or other conditions who face stigma & exclusion from participating in society due to their conditions seek psycho-social support as a means to empower & equip them to fully participate in public events, schools & workplaces. 2) Youth Social Workers (ages 18-35) who will be recruited & trained to work with us as psycho-social support service providers.

How is your idea unique?

General welfares do not address the main reason for exclusion: ignorance and stigma, both of which are a disability of society. There is also a lack of services and support to enable people to access mainstream platforms of representation and involvement especially in the recreation and work sector. This idea is unique as it’s trying not only to empower people with psycho-social disability but also ensuring institutions provide the facilities to cater to their needs. The program will be creating an Innovative Healthcare-based Service by facilitating: ~ Social Interaction ~ Capacity Building ~ Productive Lifestyle Such direct service to clients and their families do not exist. The program will also be developing a cadre of social workers who have the knowledge tools and are equipped to make society more inclusive. They will be provided with: ~ Unique Capacity Building and Skills Development Opportunity ~ Access to various institutions ~ Newer scopes for Employment

Tell us more about you

Identity Inclusion is a part of Shammo Foundation, a non-government organization in Dhaka, Bangladesh. It aims to identify the needs of people with psycho-social disabilities & break the barriers that affect their capacity to participate in the community. It provides support to the family members as well as institutions, as development of only the marginalized people will not help each other build a more inclusive community. We want everyone to have a voice and identity in the society.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

We are trying to think of innovative and structured ways to communicate the service to the clients, as our product is the first of its kind to be launched. A study conducted showed that in urban areas, it takes 10 weeks for people to take the initiative to seek professional help for their mental health issues. The stigma attached to seeking services related to mental health prevents clients from actively looking for a solution to the problems they are facing. Currently there is no community based service to ensure social inclusion of people with mental illness, which we are trying to solve and establish with our program.

Where will your idea be implemented?

  • Bangladesh

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

Expertise in Sector

  • I've worked in a sector related to my idea for more than a year.

Organizational Status

  • We are a registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

Idea Maturity

  • Early Growth/Roll-out/Scaling: I have completed a pilot and am ready or in the process of expanding.

How has your idea changed based on feedback?

We conducted an extensive review of the pilot currently running and by getting feedback from all the persons involved. We saw that the youth are morally aware of their responsibility towards a better society, but do not have the avenue to act on it. In our pilot, those providing the service through us were creating an impact, in contrast to those who have just received the training. Hence we would be recruiting all those trained, to provide the service through us. Our training and first client's service were funded by us, which proved to be difficult to maintain. We are now developing payment systems for clients, and sponsorship opportunities for clients who cannot afford it. This opens up a greater opportunity for creating awareness about the stigma through fundraising campaigns. Also we will be charging a fee from our recruits upon intake to cover the minimum training costs and cost of the certification. This will also ensure accountability of the recruits towards the program.

Who will implement this idea?

3 current employees of Identity inclusion will be devoted full-time to this project. Our Partners are 5-6 Consultants who will design the curriculum and support service. 3 Occupational Therapists will be our Advisers. 100 psycho-social supporters will be trained and recruited on a 1-year contract. of them, 10 given ToT will work as Trainers for future programs, and 3 of them will be appointed as full-time PM. The OT, supporters and PM will be posted in our 3 selected cities.

Using a human-centered design approach, you may uncover insights that lead to small or foundational changes to your organization’s existing strategy or processes in order to unlock the potential of your idea. How would your organization go about making such changes?

Our support service is personalized to the clients' needs. Supporters consult with clients periodically and convey them to their PM. The PM organizes discussions with experts involved, and make the final decisions with the project director. As we are a community-based organization, our way of operating is more decentralized. We also have a small core team, making the decision process much leaner. There are only two levels of hierarchy before a decision gets made. After over a year of operation we have remodeled our organizational processes to streamline and maximize our work potential. This change came as a result of recent external HCD training received, and expansion of our auxiliary services. We are open to further improvements to better deliver our support service.

What is it that most attracted you to Amplify instead of a more traditional funding model?

Amplify is giving us an immersive experience through their model. From the get-go it has propelled us to intensively look into our main target and issues, with clear guidelines on how to go about achieving them. Amplify has involved their experts and the community to give key insights which greatly enhanced the ideas. The fact that Amplify would continue to impart their expertise throughout the operation of projects establishes our belief that the ideas generated to reach fruition.

What challenges do your end-users face? (1) What is the biggest challenge that your end-users face on a day-to-day, individual level? (2) What is the biggest systems-level challenge that affects your end-users?

The stigma surrounding mental health serves as the biggest challenge. People with conditions related to mental health are shunned in our society. As a result they hide themselves in their homes to avoid meeting people and getting shamed. The stigma is propelled by the lack of access to basic support services. There is lack of utilization of human resources for such services in government facilities, having only 1 clinical social worker in the only national mental health institution in the country. Private practices only provide clinical services, that too at high rates and only available in the Capital. Existing policies are redundant, with no review or human rights watch for mental health facilities. The government is thus unable to provide community level services to the masses.

Tell us about your vision for this project: (1) share one sentence about the impact you would like to see from this project in five years and (2) what is the biggest question you need to answer to get there?

In 5 years, we aim to train 2000 youth social workers to provide psycho-social support services directly, and 2.6 million people through implementation of the service on a national scale in all of the major districts in Bangladesh. How do we systematically communicate and tackle the stigma surrounding mental health that keep people from seeking support services on an individual and national level?

How long have you and your colleagues been working on this idea together?

  • Between 1 and 2 years

How many of your team’s paid, full-time staff are currently based in the location where the beneficiaries of your proposed idea live?

  • Under 5 paid, full-time staff

Is your organization registered in the country you intend to implement your idea in?

  • We are registered in all countries where we plan to implement.

My organization's operational budget for 2016 was:

  • Under $50,000 USD

If your team/idea/organization has a website, please share the URL below.

Attachments (1)

Identity Inclusion Factsheet May-17.pdf

A comprehensive fact-sheet about Identity Inclusion's activities


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Hi Bushra Adel and Team! We’re excited to share with you feedback and questions from the Amplify team and an external set of experts. We encourage you to think about this feedback as you continue to improve and refine your idea. You are welcome to respond in the comments section and/or to incorporate feedback into the text of your idea. Your idea and all associated comments will all be reviewed during the final review process.

- You clearly articulate and identify a key gap and need for psycho-social support - great job! We're excited about your innovative approach to use a cadre of youth volunteers to work in the healthcare sector to provide psycho-social support and creating awareness.
- We want to know more about how you intend to work with stakeholders related to your idea as well as your user group. How will you approach working with community members to be ready to work with volunteers? How do you intend to incentivize and motivate your volunteers over the long term? Have you considered working with other stakeholders such as, healthcare professionals or teachers? What safeguards will be in place to ensure the protection of people needing psycho-social support? For example, do you have a rigorous screening process for your volunteers?
- We want to know more about the potential barriers facing your users accessing your organization. What are your plans to address the policy gap? Have you considered how your project might create and handle the demand for services that institutions can not supply?
- Tell us more about your pilot! What are some lessons learned? Any new questions or hypotheses you want to test moving forward?

In case you missed it, check out this Storytelling Toolkit for inspiration for crafting strong and compelling stories: Storytelling is an incredibly useful tool to articulate an idea and make it come to life for those reading it. Don’t forget - June 4 at 11:59PM PST is your last day to make changes to your idea on the OpenIDEO platform.

Have questions? Email us at

Looking forward to reading more!

Photo of Bushra Adel

OpenIDEO  Team, thank you for your in-depth analysis and relevant insights about our project!

1) Community members will be informed about our service through word of mouth, institutions and social media. We will campaign and promote our services through health institutions such as the National Institute for Mental Health and Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP), with whom we already have an agreement. Occupational Therapists at these institutions will recommend our service to potential users. Campus promotions and campaigns will be held across top universities, where a large community of youth seeking support services will be familiarized with the service. Our volunteer themselves will approach the community members personally and create the awareness.

Volunteers providing the service are reimbursed with the costs they incur due to service provision, such as transport costs and phone call expenses. Trainers will be paid for the number of days they’ve given training. Once the service has been established and there is a steady income, we would offer full-time, paid positions as psycho-social supporters. Alongside monetary incentives, we will hold regular meetings, discussions, and in-house trainings. The program managers will acts as their mentors from who they can gain insights and experiences. The skill-set and knowledge-base gained for their training and experience, alongside the certification will enhance their portfolio for future endeavors.

We will be directly working with Occupational Therapists who will serve as advisers for our client’s individual assessments and support plans. Based on the needs of the clients, we will approach and work with other stakeholders to vouch for inclusion of our clients in their institutions. We will provide necessary expertise and training to fulfil this. We also plan on providing this program’s training to institutions such as disabled people’s organizations, schools, workplaces, and to interested professionals who would want to advocate for inclusion in their respective fields.

Client confidentiality is of utmost importance to us. We sign MoU’s with all our clients stating the terms and conditions of the service, and have advocacy and consent forms which bind us to uphold the client’s privacy. Each volunteer is required to sign a contract which stipulates client confidentiality as an important clause. Volunteers also have periodic evaluations of their performance and conduct to ensure the quality of the service is maintained.

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