Samutthana's initiative for peace is pragmatic and aims to increase the communication and understanding between different ethnic groups, allowing and increasing the ability of such groups to undertake interventions that take into account the views of all groups.
The UK Sri Lanka Trauma group has been working for more than 10 years to increase awareness of mental health needs related to trauma. They have targeted diverse groups, including health professionals, teachers, the media, and politicians. The extension of the Samutthana program related to this commitment is therefore an extension of UK Sri Lanka Trauma's base framework.
The target groups for training are non-governmental and governmental staff, and volunteers working where psychosocial skills are relevant. It is anticipated that improvements in the quality of work and interaction these staff and volunteers make with people in target areas requiring mental health and psychosocial support will be facilitated through training.
In May 2007 Samutthana held an International Conference Renewal and Regeneration, which brought together clinicians and researchers from tsunami affected countries in the region (Indonesia, India, Thailand and Sri Lanka) and also from other countries affected by disaster and/or conflict (Pakistan and Afghanistan). A key theme of the conference was peace and reconciliation, which is an area of work Samutthana plans for broadening in 2009-10.
In 2007, there were up to 2,000 attendees at training activities organized through Samutthana, of which 45% were repeat attendees (in line with UK-Sri Lanka Trauma Group's objective of continuous skills development). It is difficult to estimate the number who have benefited from the increased skills of the trained group. Each trainee is likely to be involved with a minimum of 10 people who are vulnerable or have defined mental health needs (the range could be 10 - 500 per year).
The UK Sri Lanka Trauma Group's initial awareness of the need to broaden the provision of mental health services led the Group to identify local partners and target vulnerable areas for location of resource centers.
The necessary financial support for the initial implementation was obtained from CAFOD with support of its partner, King's College London.
UK Sri Lanka Trauma Group has installed a project management structure, with five directors (two belonging to the UK Sri Lanka Trauma group in the UK) and three based in Sri Lanka who form the Board of Directors of Samutthana.
There is now a Project Administrator based in Colombo and a part time Accountant with regional Site Managers in Batticaloa, Jaffna, and Hambantota whose work is supervied by the Adminstrator with overarching supervision by the directors. The project has already developed a network of local contacts with NGOs and other voluntary groups, key personnel in Minsitries, such as the Director of Mental Health, Institue of Education through which training needs are identified.
Moving forward, the UK-Sri Lanka Trauma Group will include a regular training for mental health nurses, and development of a Masters Degree course for Clinical Psychology which has been part funded and initiated through the University of Colombo, by Samutthana. The group will also implement a new focus on the reconciliation potential of brining traditionally conflicted groups together.
The mode of training will focus on continued inputs with the use of supervision sessions to enhance learning and practice and hence differs form short term training inputs which are offered by various NGO groups.
As a means of increasing access to the skill based training for use locally and within the region, UK Sri Lanka Trauma Group is constantly developing its distance learning packages.
- Measures of Success:
- Increase in the number of skilled counselors working in the NGO sector.
- Increased in mental health knowledge and skills among mental health nurses.
- Increase in the number of clinical psychologists working in the country.
- Presence of counselors skilled in working with alcohol and substance misuse.
- Presence of counselors equipped to deal with child protection issues.