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Mental Health & Wellbeing

· Capacity building in mental health
  The Trauma and Global Health (TGH) Programme in Sri Lanka jointly implemented by PRDA and the McGill University and the Douglas Mental Health University Institute in Montreal, Canada in its third year (2009-2010) focuses on capacity building and knowledge transfer on aspects related to mental health, community wellbeing and mental disorders. The target audiences for capacity building would include mental health professionals, social workers, counselors and other service providers and particularly those working in communities affected by conflict and natural disaster. The project is in the process of developing a training package largely based on insights and experiences gained through extensive research that was conducted over a period of two years (2007&2008) in refugee and tsunami affected communities in the Puttalam, Hambantota and Batticaloa districts on issues related to mental health and wellbeing. The training package attempts to incorporate subject matter related to concepts of mental health, wellbeing and mental disorders, community perceptions of mental health and wellbeing, participatory approaches to community consultations and designing and planning community based psychosocial and mental health interventions.
· A process tool-kit for psychosocial interventions
  The TGH project has been successful in developing a process tool-kit for psychosocial interventions which presents a set of useful guidelines for service providing organizations on how to approach and conduct community consultations, identify and prioritize community issues, work with community groups, strengthen local resources, skills and capacities etc. PRDA invites local partner organizations particularly those working on psychosocial issues to make use of this tool-kit in their interventions at community level.
· Publications
  1. Mental Health and Wellbeing – Experience of communities affected by conflict and 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka – Chamindra Weerackody and Suman Fernando
This book presents a unique study of mental health and wellbeing as seen through the experiences and perceptions of people themselves in two communities in Sri Lanka – those in the South (Hambantota area) who were exposed to the 2004 tsunami and Muslim refugees expelled from the North (Jaffna area) now living in the North-Western Puttalam district. The authors draw lessons for policy makers and the training of people working in areas of conflict and disaster; and they suggest a model for developing community based mental health services in rural areas in countries such as Sri Lanka.

The book is available for sale at PRDA Head Office, 64, Horton Place, Colombo 07. Price: Rs.250/-

  2. Field Report – Perceptions of Social Stratification and Wellbeing in Refugee Communities in North-Western Sri Lanka – Chamindra Weerackody and Suman Fernando, International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, p. 47-56, Volume 4, Issue 2 October 2008,  Pavilion Journals (Brighton) Ltd.
· Workshop on Wellbeing, Mental Health and Community Care
  PRDA under the TGH programme conducted a two day training workshop for mental health professionals and workers on ‘Wellbeing, Mental Health and Community Care’. The workshop organized jointly by PRDA and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) was held on 24th and 25th March 2009 at the NIMH, Angoda.  The number of participants was around 100 of whom the majority were the trainee psychiatrists, medical officers (mental health), nurses and psychiatric social workers.
· Study on community perceptions of mental illnesses
  This study was focused on to elicit community perceptions of mental illnesses, their definitions and interpretations of causal factors, family and community response patterns to mentally ill persons, implications of mentally ill persons on family and community, persons and agencies approached by families in seeking treatment/healing for mentally ill persons etc. One of the significant aspects of this study was to understand the influence of community beliefs, cultural practices etc. on community/family perceptions on mental illnesses and practices adopted to treat/heal mentally ill persons. The study was conducted by two psychiatric registrars at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) – Dr. Rasitha Perera and Dr. Lushan Hettiarachchi in two tsunami affected communities in the Galle district.
· Community Action Projects for Mental Health Promotion
  The TGH project initiated a few community based pilot projects in the tsunami affected Mirissa village (Matara district) for improving wellbeing/mental health of the communities affected by the 2004 tsunami. These pilot projects would serve as models to draw lessons on how the affected communities could be facilitated to take initiative to use their own resources (with minimal external support), strengths and capacities to address some of their felt community needs to enhance their economic, social, psychological and spiritual wellbeing. 
Four projects were identified in consultation with the community members using a set of criteria. These projects are intended to generate community participation and benefit the whole community/significant cross-section in their daily lives. Two of the selected projects -flowers alter for the Bodhiya and a Buddha statue/center of worship have already been completed.  The rest of the projects will also be completed soon.  

Flower altar



Teasdale-Corti TGH Program (TGH)
The Teasdale-Corti Trauma and Global Health (TGH) programme stems from a partnership between McGill University and research teams based in Guatemala City (Guatemala), Kathmandu (Nepal), Lima (Peru), and Colombo (Sri Lanka). The project is entitled “political violence, natural disasters and mental health outcomes: developing innovative health policies and interventions”. The ultimate objective of the program is to reduce the mental health burden of civilian populations exposed to protracted and endemic political violence and episodic natural disasters, foster the process of healing, psychosocial rehabilitation and recovery, and generate improved mental health policies and services in the participating countries. The current situation in all four countries presents a mosaic of contrasting realities and poses new challenges to the ongoing efforts for peace building, conflict resolution, reconciliation and reconstruction of civil society. This project encompasses three major components, namely Information Generation (IG), Knowledge Transfer (KT) and Capacity Building (CB).
PRDA is the Sri Lankan counterpart of the Teasdale-Corti TGH Program (TGH) conducted by the McGill University in Sri Lanka. The project funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) started in 2007 and will continue over a period of four years. The activities planned for Sri Lanka includes participatory research on ‘community wellbeing’ conducted with conflict and tsunami affected communities, information sharing, training and capacity building of mental health workers and pilot projects to develop community based training methodologies and community based mental health care models.
  Members of the Teasdale-Corti Project Management Committee

From left to right: Dr. Suman Fernando, Prof.Laurence Kirmayer, Ms. Consuelo Errazuriz, Dr. Duncan Perdersen, Bhogendra Sharma, Chamindra Weerackody, Dr. Jaswant Guzder and Victor Lopez (May 2008, Montreal)

  Members of the Core-Team of the Sri Lanka Teasdale-Corti Project

From left to right: Chamindra Weerackody, Ananda Galappatti, Mrs. Shanti Fernando, Ms. Harini Amarasuriya, Dr. Suman Fernando, Dr. Gameela Samarasinghe (absent)



Capacity building training for mental health professionals
  Under the Teasdale-Corti Trauma and Global Health (TGH) project, PRDA nominated and facilitated the participation of Dr. Varuni Ganepola, Lecturer in Psychology, University of Colombo and Dr. Judy Jeyakumar, Medical Officer, Batticaloa Teaching Hospital and a Diploma Trainee in Psychiatry at the Summer Course on Transcultural Psychiatry conducted by the McGill University in June 2007. Both Dr. Jeyakumar and Dr Ganepola followed the one month Summer Programme in Social and Cultural Psychiatry while Dr. Ganepola continued for a further two months which included clinical training in working with families and children.
  In 2008, PRDA nominated and facilitated the participation of Dr. Shavindra Dias, Consultant Psychiatrist and Senior Lecturer, University of Peradeniya and Ms. Udeni Appuhamilage, Lecturer in Psychology, University of Peradeniya to follow the one month Summer Programme in Social and Cultural Psychiatry now being conducted at the McGill University.


Workshop and Conference on Peace, Conflict and Reconciliation- Contributions of Cultural Psychiatry, April 29th – May 2nd 2008, Montreal, Canada
  Chamindra Weerackody, Sri Lanka Project Lead of the Teasdale-Corti Trauma and Global Health (TGH) project participated in the above workshop and conference organized by the Division of Social & Transcultural Psychiatry of the McGill University. Dr. Suman Fernando, Consultant Psychiatrist based in UK and consultant to the Teasdale-Corti TGH project in Sri Lanka also participated.
Dr. Suman Fernando and Chamindra Weerackody presented a joint paper entitled “Re-building traumatized communities: a model of community development (CD) backed by cultural psychiatry”. Both of them also participated in a panel discussion and presented a second paper entitled “Conflict, Peace Building and Reconciliation Efforts in Sri Lanka”.



Panelists from Guatemala, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Peru at the Peace, Conflict and Reconciliation - Contributions of Cultural Psychiatry Conference



Working papers on research conducted with conflict and tsunami affected communities
  Under the Teasdale-Corti Trauma and Global Health (TGH) project, PRDA has conducted a series of participatory research on the ‘wellbeing of communities affected by conflict and tsunami’. The study sites included two tsunami affected communities in the Hambantota district, one conflict affected and one tsunami affected community in the Batticaloa district and one Muslim refugee community in the Puttalam district (Kalpitiya). The preliminary findings of the studies are compiled into the following working papers.
  1. Perceptions of wellbeing in tsunami affected communities in Southern Sri Lanka; a preliminary report  Chamindra Weerackody, Suman Fernando and Thushara Senarathna
  2. Perceptions of wellbeing in refugee communities in the North-Western Sri Lanka; a preliminary report - Chamindra Weerackody and Suman Fernando
  3. Conflict, disaster, political economy and psychosocial wellbeing: Two community studies from Batticaloa - Ananda Galappatti, Murugaverl Murugesu, Stanley Prabaharan & Chamindra Weerackody


Mental Health Workshops
  PRDA in collaboration with the Institute of Psychiatry, Angoda organized three training workshops for mental health professionals and workers in Sri Lanka. The workshops were held from 21st to 26th January 2008 at the Institute of Psychiatry, Angoda. The three workshops were;
· Trans-cultural and Social Psychiatry Course – 21st and 22nd January
· Trauma and Mental Health workshop – 23rd January
· Research Methods in Mental Health workshop – 24th – 26th January
  Each workshop was attended by more than 70 participants, which included psychiatrists, trainee psychiatrists, social workers, counsellors, academics, researchers and representatives of NGOs. All three workshops were conducted by a team of resource persons from the McGill University and the Douglas Mental Health University Institute in Montreal, Canada. The Colombo Office of the WHO and the McGill University supported the logistical arrangements.
  These training workshops were part of the Trauma and Global Health (TGH) programme of the McGill University whose Sri Lankan partner for the current four-year programme is PRDA. Dr. Suman Fernando, Psychiatrist based in UK is the consultant to the Sri Lanka programme.
  Lighting the traditional oil lamp at the inauguration of the mental health workshops at Angoda
  Dr. Suman Fernando, Consultant to Teasdale-Corti Project, Mr. Sunimal Fernando, Advisor to H.E. the President and Dr. Duncan Pederson, resource person from McGill stand to light the traditional oil lamp at the worksho inauguration.
  Dr. Duncan Pederson, McGill Resource Person delivering a presentation
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