National Institute of Mental Health

Angoda, Sri Lanka

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Home Patient Services Services for special populations Psychiatric Social Workers (PSWs) of NIMH

Psychiatric Social Workers (PSWs) of NIMH

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There are five senior psychiatric social workers and ten development assistants (mental health) working in this department. Each worker is attached to one consultant psychiatrist who covers a geographical area in the country. Social workers work with clients both in-hospital and in the community. The Social Work department was opened in 1968 and the senior social workers have been working at Angoda since the early 1980s.

Purpose of social work

  • To assist and support people with mental health problems (clients) to achieve a social, economic, emotional and physical balance and personal independence compatible with generally accepted norms.  This includes supporting the person to receive basic human rights.
  • To work with the community to create conditions favourable for the healthy development of individuals, groups and the community.  Also to work to remove or avoid any barriers and to protect vulnerable people including children.

This is done through a number of means including the following:

  • Working as a member of the multi-disciplinary team including doctors, nursing officers, support workers, occupational therapists, clients and family members
  • Case work (e.g., working with individuals about their particular problems, including home visits and visits to any other necessary place)
  • Assessment of each person’s psychosocial problems, needs and strengths
  • Working with special groups of people including people with forensic histories and unmarried mothers
  • Group work (e.g., family support groups, alcohol and drug dependency groups)
  • Community care work (e.g., promoting social integration of people with mental health problems)
  • Attending ward rounds in hospital and out-patient clinics at National Hospital in Colombo, and in the community outreach clinics
  • Rehabilitation (e.g., finding employment opportunities for people with mental health problems)
  • Mental health education of the community and of families
  • Training of other professionals about psychiatric social work
  • Help with legal issues (e.g., property). This can include attending court, meetings with the Probation Department, Social Services or the National Secretariat for Elders
  • Welfare work including referrals to Social Services and other institutions
  • Organising special programmes (e.g., World Mental Health day programmes, trips for clients and family members, study tours)
  • Working in collaboration with NGOs and INGO

Hours of operation: 8 a.m. - 4 p.m., Monday to Saturday except public holidays

Contact telephone and email:

0094 11 257 8234-7 extension 216 and 218

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