About The FounderTurning Point
Ishita Sanyal’s life completely changed when she learned that a loved one was believed to have the most dreaded mental illness, schizophrenia. As a psychologist, she felt helpless to improve the quality of life for the affected individual or the parents. Neither medication nor counseling could provide what is most needed in these cases – rehabilitation, learning life skills, social interaction, and communication.
None of the centers she looked into offered real, practical answers. She decided to do it herself, founding The Turning Point Center and designing its entire program 25 years back.
As skills development & training, where other centers offered bookbinding or pickle making as occupational therapy, she launched a computer training & spoken English program for mental patients, the first of its kind in Calcutta. It is the first day care vocational training program for people with MI in Kolkata & offering Computer & ICT for development & treatment of people with MI Along with it training in all sorts of creativity is also offered like Handicrafts training, creative writing, art, music etc.
Her main focus is promoting development of human beings by exploring their skills & offering them a platform to showcase their skills to the world. She believes that as a psychologist the focus should be on wellness & not on illness.
She started Open The door – A unique talent hunt competition not only for beneficiaries of Turning Point but for people all over West Bengal where each participant is treated as a winner once they participate in the competition. They are also offered a platform to showcase their skills.
She works for livelihood and employment of persons living with mental illness. She thinks that to enable people to earn their livelihood, mere job opportunities that regular placement agencies provide are not enough. Vocational trainings are needed to develop other skills. Turning Point provides various such vocational training opportunities that include computer and internet classes, spoken English, junk jewelleries, besides handicrafts training. So far, Ishita has been able to develop networks with placement agencies through which many people living with mental illness have been able to get suitable job offers. For others she has developed entrepreneurship so that after skills development & training they could earn their own livelihood & live a respectable life.
She thinks every human being needs to develop an identity for which he/ she can feel proud of. She helps them to build that identity – A person as a performer & not as a patient only. This changed identity helps the affected individual to move forward in life, & develop a sense of purpose in life.
Lockdown has not been able to shut down her work even for a single day. She decided to start online program from the very first day along with online counselling. She even felt the need to start zoom programs regularly so that even online these people can freely interact with each other.
She has also joined hands with Global Play Brigade. They use play across borders & Ishita, along with The Turning Point have collaborated with the institution to do a number of different Play activities together across the border. https://www.globalplaybrigade.org/
She also works as a consultant in different corporate sectors offering them workshops for development & happy living.
Key Career Accomplishments
• Creating the first day care center (The Turning Point) in India which was activity centered therapy center nurturing the creative pursuits of MI people
• Started Disha- the child guidance center for children
• Started Parent’s group in Kolkata
• Eastern regional Director of NAMI,India
• Written columns in the Times of India & Telegraph on Mental health for almost 5 years
• Written & edited the Book Abujh Mon & Undefined Development which depicts how mental illness affects the whole family & how development takes place in an unprecedented way beyond the defined development process of professional books
Director / Co director of the documentaries “From Dusk to Dawn”, “Dare to Dream”, “Mujhe Rang De”, “Open the Door”, “Partho De – The Untold Story”, depicting the life of people suffering from mental illness & how Turning Point is bringing a change into their lives.
Her programs have garnered international praise, usually accompanied by astonishment that she has done all this without funding. She is recognized as a pioneer in making patients more responsible. She has received a number of awards for her work & few of them are-
- Received David Feinsilver Award, Australia as the best research paper in 2003 It is an International Award given to the best research papers in two years.
- Received Manthan Award, India in September 2007 on e- Health
- Received UGC-CEC Award as the best resource person for an educational CD on Suicide & suicide prevention
- Received Barbo Sandin Award, Denmark, 2009
- Winner (2nd position) in International e-Health Competition, The Netherlands, 2010
- Winner of Good Governance Award, 3rd, March, 2011
- Winner of E-governance Award,( Gujarat)2012
- Winner of Helen Keller Award, 2012
- 1st Place in Boston Pledge, entrepreneurship competition
- 1st place in India in Metro Community awards
- Selected in the first 10 inTSEC competition at IIM, Kolkata
- Selected in the first 10 Ebela Samman.
Selected as best practice in UN Head Quarter, Austria in Zero Conference in February, 2017
Turning Point began as an experiment. Today, the methods she adapted have spread to different regions of the world beyond India. Despite a lot of hardships, the awareness on mental health issues have increased more than before. Parents understand that a child’s mental and physical health are equally important and need to be monitored well.