Mental Health Placement Plan: June - August 2013

As the summer placements draw closer the Executive Director of Samutthana, Ms Dushy Parakrama and myself (Lucy Nightingale) have began to draft a plan that we wish to share with all the participants confirmed on the Mental Health Placements.

The Past Year: It was almost exactly this time last year that I was introduced to the Dushy Parakrama, by Clinical Psychologists Dr Kemmis and Dr Balkham. Looking back I would never have anticipated how much this partnership would have grown and we are really honoured to have the opportunity to work with and learn from such an amazing organisation. Our participants have continued to receive monthly training sessions from Samutthana including the popular creative therapy workshop. They have also had the chance to learn meditation and mindfulness from an American who has been working in Sri Lanka for over 20 years, who has played a key role in creating counselling initiatives for people who have been affected by addiction and trauma.

National Institute of Mental Health: We have been receiving great feedback from NIMH about the activity sessions that our volunteers have been running. So much so, that from June we hope to expand our work to a nearby half-way-home that provides long-term care for approximately 525 women who have a mental illness. Participants have also enjoyed accompanying Samutthana psychiatrists on outreach trips around Sri Lanka.

The Summer Plan: We have further developed the summer programmed from last year to give participants a deeper insight in to the mental health sector in Sri Lanka so I wanted to write this post to give you a small insight in to what we are planning. All participants will take part in the Samuthana training half day workshop and attend an evening conference run by Samuthana's directors during their trip. All participants will also be timetabled to volunteer at NIMH. Previous volunteers have provided feedback that a full day at the hospital can be too draining and we are considering splitting the day and also running activities at the half-way-home. Everyone is given an introductory tour of the hospital before they begin to volunteer there.

Donation: A donation of £65 is required to complete this programme with Samutthana, paid pre-departure to SL Volunteers Account. We have witnessed that Samutthana give SLV a great deal of their time and in addition we use their building and resources. So we feel it only right that we contribute to their great work around Sri Lanka.

Seminars & Field Trips: Participants are also invited to attend Samutthana's seminars that they hold throughout the year. For some of these seminars there is a cost of 500-1000 rupees (approx. £2.50-£5.) There are also other opportunities for participants for example the opportunity to go on field trips shadowing Psychiatrists around Sri Lanka.

Please email lucy@slvolunteers.com if you have any questions regarding this placement.