National Institute of Mental Health

Angoda, Sri Lanka

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To read about past news and views about NIMH, check out our newsletter - Waves (pdf file).



Workshop on Prevention of Violence againt Women - 28th to 30th November 2012

Workshop on Prevention of Violence againt Women

Theme: "Prevention of violence by an intimate partner"

28th - 30th November 2012

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NIMH celebrates World Mental Health Day 2012

BannerNIMH marked this year's World Mental Health Day on 10 October with the biggest celebration in the institute's history. With the focus on this year's Day on depression, the main message for all the events was that depression can be successfully treated, however early treatment is crucial.

The week-long activities kicked off on 9 October with the grand opening of the island-wide art, essay and slogan student exhibition at the National Art Gallery. The exhibition was officially opened by chief guest, Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Ms. Robyn Mudie and showcased what Sri Lanka's next generation think about mental health and illness. The exhibition was open for three days welcoming hundreds of guests and was officially closed on 11 October by Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Health, Dr. Maheepala.

At the gallery opening, Halfway Home Mulleriyawa and Amba Tea Estate also launched a book entitled, "Happy? - Expressions of Mental Well-Being", which examines the beliefs and attitudes we all have about mental wellness. Featuring quotes from Kumar Sangakkara, local author Shyam Selvadurai and international author Joanna Trollope, as well as various drawing and thoughts from the general public, the book challenges conventional ideas about what it means to be happy.

All proceeds from the sale of the book is going towards supporting livelihood projects for the residents at Halfway Home Mulleriyawa. To purchase your copy, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

On 10 October, the day began with a "March for Mental Health" from the National Art Gallery to Lipton Circus. Lead by Hon. Mathripala Sirisena, Minister of Health, the walk highlighted the need for more education and awareness about mental health issues across the country.

On 12 and 13 October, NIMH hosted an Open Day at its location at Angoda and on the 15 October hosted a netball tournament and forum theatre performance at Halfway Home Mulleriyawa.

The Open Day events were officially opened by the First Lady of Sri Lanka, Her Excellency, Mrs. Shiranthi Rajapaksa, on 12 October as she toured the hospital facilities and admired the outstanding products on sale that were made by the residents and staff. On 13 October, Hon. Bandula Gunawardena, Minister of Education, attended the Open Day and handed out the prizes to the winners of the art, essay and slogan contest.

Throughout the Open Day and art exhibition, a talented group of performers from the hospital put on an excellent forum theatre drama, which addressed the stigma and discrimination attached to mental illness.

Here are some photos from all of the events:

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6th Annual SAFPA Conference at NIMH a huge success

ce-lgflagThe academic sessions of the South Asian Federation of Psychiatric Associations (SAFPA) are held annually in one of the member nations. The 2012 conference was held on the 2nd to 4th of November at NIMH, which proved to be an excellent host for close to 200 psychiatric and mental health professionals in the region to meet and share experiences.

The conference had an academic faculty consisting of leading international and national speakers as well as resource persons. The inauguration ceremony was held at Mount Lavinia Hotel on 2 November with Chief Guest, Senior Minister, Honourable Sarath Amunugama and the Chief Orator, Dr. Ranil Abeyasinghe, President of the Sri Lanka College of Psychiatrists.

SAFPA is the apex body of professional psychiatric associations in South Asia. It was formed with the objective of promoting the advancement of psychiatry and mental health in the South Asian region. The organization is also linked to the World Psychiatric Association and its leaders are global leaders in the field.

Visit SAFPA's website at: http://www.safpa.asia.

Conference Program

You can view and download the conference program here: Program Details (pdf)

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World Mental Health Day activities - everyone is invited!

WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY EVENTS IN COLOMBO – 9 to 13 OCTOBER

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BOOK LAUNCH, ART EXHIBITION, FORUM THEATRE, AWARENESS MARCH AND OPEN DAY

Mental health affects everyone. And, the fact is anyone can get a mental illness, no matter their gender, education level or economic status. World Mental Health Day on October 10 is an annual event aimed at raising awareness of mental health issues, which the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate affects one in ten people across the globe.

This year’s specific focus is on depression - a very common mental disorder that can have severe consequences, but CAN be successfully treated. According to the WHO, by 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of world disability and by 2030; it is expected to be the largest contributor to disease burden.

"For too long, mental illness has been the cause of great shame, causing peopleto be abandoned by their families, discriminated by employers and rejected by potential marriage partners. These attitudes need to change and the time for change is now,” said Dr. Jayan Mendis, Director, NIMH.

To coincide with the theme of World Mental Health Day, Halfway Home Mulleriyawa and Amba Tea Estate will be launching a booked entitled “Happy? – Expressions of Mental Well-Being”, which examines the beliefs and attitudes we all have about mental wellness.

Featuring quotes from Sri Lankan cricketer Kumar Sangakkara, local author Shyam Selvadurai and international author Joanna Trollope, as well as various drawings and thoughts from the general public, the publication will challenge your idea about what it means to be happy. All proceeds from the sale of the book will go towards supporting livelihood projects for the residents at Halfway Home Mulleriyawa.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) requests your help in promoting the launch of the book and our other various public events, which are being supported by Volunteer Services Overseas (VSO) and funded by the European Union, WHO, Amba Tea Estate and other generous donors.

The media and public are invited to attend the following events:

National school art, essay and slogan exhibition – National Art Gallery
9, 10 and 11 October – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Officially being opened by chief guest, Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Ms. Robyn Mudie, at 9:00 a.m. on 9 October, the exhibition will showcase how Sri Lanka’s next generation view mental health issues through their art, essays and slogans. Everyone is invited to check out this engaging display. The closing ceremony will be held on 11 October at the National Art Gallery with the chief guest, Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Health, Dr. Maheepala at 8:30 a.m.

Book launch and sale of “Happy? – Expressions of Mental Well-Being” – National Art Gallery
9 October – 9 a.m.

Come for the book launch, take a look at the finished copy and buy a copy of your own to support livelihood projects for residents at Mulleriyawa.

World Mental Health Day ‘March for Mental Health’ – National Art Gallery
10 October – 7:30 a.m.

With chief guest Hon. Mathripala Sirisena, Minister of Health, the march starts at 7:30 a.m. from the National Art Gallery and will finish at Lipton Circus. Everyone is welcome to join in the walk and show their support for mental health care in Sri Lanka.

Open Day - National Institute of Mental Health
12 and 13 October – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

NIMH will be hosting an open house for the general public featuring an art exhibition, craft sale, butterfly making and fun for the whole family. The event will officially be opened on 12 October at 9 a.m. by the First Lady of Sri Lanka, Her Excellency, Ms. Shiranthi Rajapaksa and on 13 October at 8 a.m. by Hon. Bandula Gunawardena, Minister of Education.

All three days will feature information about how and where to get help for people or families experiencing mental health issues and the NIMH psycho-geriatric unit will provide a free memory skill assessment. A trained staff member will also be available to conduct cognitive assessments.

Forum Theatre Drama – National Institute of Mental Health
13 October

All are invited to watch this amazing performance by residents and employees that examines and challenges the stigma attached to mental illness.

For more information, contact the NIMH media unit, Shaun Humphries (English) on 0775 176 365 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

Workshop offered to help mark 2012 World Alzheimer's Day and World Elder's Day

Free memory assessment offered at NIMH on 12, 13 and 14 October 2012

Community Training

To help celebrate World Alzheimer's Day on 21 September and World Elder's Day on 1 October, NIMH conducted a workshop on 19 September for 40 volunteers working in the community. The session highlighted common mental health problems among the elderly and the mental health services available in Sri Lanka.

The main message for the volunteers was that many older pepole with mental health problems can be helped to maintain an active and productive role in the society.

During the Open Days at NIMH as part of World Mental Health Day Activities (12th,13th and 14th October), the NIMH psycho-geriatric unit will provide a free memory skill assessment. A trained staff member will also be available to conduct cognitive assessments.

Ageing and Mental health        

1.     The range of mental health problems experienced in later life is very wide

2.    More than a quarter of older people suffer from mental disorders

3.     Mental health problems in later life can be extremely disabling resulting in:

-Poor quality of life
-Isolation
-Exclusion
-Despair
-Premature death

4.     Main mental health problems – Depression, Dementia, Anxiety disorder, Schizophrenia, Alcohol dependence and deliberate self harm

5.     Accurate diagnosis is very important, many older people with mental health problems can be helped to maintain an active role in society

6.     The care of elderly persons should go beyond disease orientation and should involve their total well-being .

7.     Mental disorders could often be prevented or modified by means that do not require placement of the affected in institutions such as:

- Training and supporting the family and volunteers by professional workers
- Promoting ambulant mental health care
- Welfare work
- Day care and measures aimed at the prevention of social isolation

8.     Early diagnosis and treatment are at the prime importance in the prevention of mental illness in older people. Special efforts need to be taken to assist older persons who have mental health problems or who are of high risk in this respect

9.     Inappropriate use of beds in health care facilities should be avoided. In particular those not mentally ill should not be placed in psychiatric hospitals

10.  Women will constitute a majority of the older population relatively greater numbered widows than widowers. Greater consideration should be given to the special needs and roles of this group

11.  Problems in family-based care:

- Women are entering and remaining in the labour force for longer periods of time. Many who have completed their child-rearing role become caught between the desire; and - Need to work and earn income and the responsibility of caring for elderly parents and grand parents

12.  Need to increase public understanding of mental health problems and dispel the stigma attached to mental health problems that arise in old age

13.  Need to promote community based mental health services for older people and need to assist families and health workers

14.  We have to encourage older people with symptoms of mental health problems to seek help.

15.  Develop improved methods for detection of depression and dementia among older people and train health staff to use effective treatments that are available.

16.  Advocate for the development of mental health strategies at national, regional and local level

17.  Increase decision-maker’s awareness of the importance of mental health problems among some older populations.

18.  Urge the greater proportion of health budgets to be directed towards mental health programs among the elderly.

19.  Integrate mental health provision into other health delivery programs.

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