National Institute of Mental Health

Angoda, Sri Lanka

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Mental Health in the News

This section of the site is updated by the NIMH media unit. Our main objective is to monitor and respond to mental health reporting in Sri Lanka. We also proactively promote mental health issues, events and stories at the institute and across the country.

Check back often to see the latest media news articles about mental health in Sri Lanka.

Speak up about unethical mental health reporting

Also, if you've read, watched or listened to an unethical or inaccurate portrayal of mental illness in the news, please check out our information and examples about how to effectively challenge, protest and respond to the media outlet in question in all three languages:

We're also proud to provide: Working with the media: A guide for Sri Lanka's mental health partners, which provides tips, tools and media contacts to any mental health professional looking for assistance in approaching the media.

With everyone's help, we can change the way mental illness is portrayed in our society. To contact the NIMH media unit, email us at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Mental Health and the Media: A handbook for journalists

With the support of our partner VSO and funding from the European Union, we are proud to make this mental health resource available to journalists in all three languages:



The Sunday Leader - May 17, 2015

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The Road To Recovery

By Laura Davies

This year, Mental Health Awareness Week focuses on mindfulness. Mindfulness helps people observe the way they think and feel about their experiences, good or bad a valuable tool for staying mentally healthy. It can help people with mental and physical health problems, from stress, depression and anxiety to chronic pain, eating disorders and concentration. Georgina Hollingsworth, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s specialist in mental health recently visited Sri Lanka to see how we work on these issues here. Georgina’s specialist team in London supports all FCO staff providing help and assistance to British Nationals overseas.

Their Mind how you go checklist is an essential for anyone with mental health needs travelling overseas. After her visit, Georgina commented: “I was really struck by the generosity of all of the staff and volunteers I met. Everyone’s hard work and dedication, and their commitment to offer British nationals excellent service and treatment was obvious. Resource pressures, financial limitations and culture all impact what a British national can expect should they require hospital treatment during their stay in Sri Lanka. British High Commission staff has built vital links with local services through their targeted outreach and communications campaign which you can follow on Facebook.”

But it’s not just about British Nationals. Sri Lanka’s long civil conflict and the 2004 Tsunami both had an enormous impact on the population’s mental health. Children and adults from every ethnicity, religion and socio-economic background have faced conflict-related mental health issues as individuals, families and communities. Mental health services in Sri Lanka are mostly based around institutional care, but there are barely 48 specialist psychiatrists in the country. The High Commission is running workshops and education programmes to promote understanding, reduce stigma and encourage early detection of mental health needs as well as supporting hospital occupational therapy departments.

Studies link poor mental health in Sri Lanka particularly with exposure to trauma, but also with internal displacement, widowhood and unemployment. Exposure to conflict is connected with school absenteeism and lower grades especially for those forced to fight as child soldiers. Rates of depression in the North are almost double the national prevalence. Former soldiers, especially those permanently disabled, are also more likely to exhibit psychological distress, as are the many Sri Lankans who worked or volunteered as humanitarians during and after the conflict, or in the immediate aftermath of the Tsunami.

Recovery can be long, slow and painful. It is also multi-layered. I met Pablo de Grieff, the United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence when he came to Sri Lanka last month. Recognising the impact of loss across Sri Lankan society, he called for urgent psycho-social support for those affected, including clarifying the fate of the disappeared. His statement focused on the need for the Sri Lankan Government to address reconciliation and accountability in the most consultative and participatory way, making it clear that for transitional justice to be effective, the victims who have personally suffered the most need to be willing to share their experiences with relevant institutions. Mindfulness is about being at peace with yourself. Mental Health Awareness Week is a good time to think of recovery in this broadest sense.

To read more about the BHC’s commitment to ending stigma against mental ill-health, read Talking Openly about Mental Health and for more about Georgina’s visit, see our Facebook post.

 


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