Mental Health Conference 2016 - Keynote Speakers

Our partners, Samutthana and UK-SLTG, are commemorating their 20th birthday with a very special conference.

We're really looking forward to this interactive event on the 12th of November, 2016 and are especially excited to hear from keynote speakers like former BBC correspondent for Sri Lanka and author of Still Counting the Dead, Frances Harrison and clinical psychologist and winner of the 2014 British Psychological Society Award for Challenging Social Inequalities in Psychology, Professor Rachel Tribe.

These knowledgeable professionals, as well as those listed below, will be sharing their insight into post-conflict reconciliation and how vulnerable communities can move forward after collective trauma. The day will include lectures and activities that aim to further examine themes of policy and justice as well as real life examples of reconciliation in action. We hope to see you there!

Key Speakers

Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Dr Shamil Wanigaratne is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Senior Advisor to H.E. Director General at the National Rehabilitation Centre, Abu Dhabi. He is a Visiting Associate at King’s College London and has also been Adjunct Professor at the United Arab Emirates University and Honorary Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London.

Until April 2011 he was Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Head of Clinical Psychology for Addictions at the Maudsley Hospital London. He is currently its Chair of UK-SLTG and Director of Samutthana, the King’s College London Resource Centre for Trauma, Displacement and Mental Health in Sri Lanka.

Dr Shamil Wanigaratne is a member of the Presidential Task Force on Psychosocial Wellbeing in Sri Lanka. In 2011, in recognition of his of his contribution to his field and profession, he was elected as a Fellow of the British Psychological Society.

Professor of Psychiatry, Keele University

Professor Athula Sumathipala attended Nalanda College Colombo and Medical Faculty of University of Colombo. In 1980 he graduated as a Medical Doctor gaining a degree of Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery. Consequently he followed it up with a Diploma of Family medicine (DFM) at Post Graduate Institute of Medicine, University of Colombo in 1985. Dr Sumathipala obtained a degree of MD from the same university in 1990.

He trained as a psychiatrist at the Maudelsy and Bethlem Royal Hospitals and obtained a PhD from the Institute of Psychiatry, University of London in 2004. Professor Athula Sumathipala was also the cofounder of the Institute for Research and Development in Sri Lanka and the UK-Sri Lanka Trauma Group & is a consultant to the World Health Organisation.

Professor of Applied Psychological Practice, University of East London

Professor Rachel Tribe is Professor of Applied Psychological Practice at the School of Psychology, University of East London. In 2014 she was awarded the British Psychological Society Award for Challenging Social Inequalities in Psychology.

Professor Rachel Tribe is active in national and international consultancy and training work and has experience of working in the private, public, charity and academic sectors. She is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and has over 30 years experience of developing clinical services and conducting research both in the UK and abroad. She has also worked clinically with a range of diverse communities and has been a member of the UK Sri Lanka Trauma Group since its inception.

Independent Conflict Consultant

Originally from Belfast, David has worked in the field of conflict and peace building for over 35 years as a trainer, practitioner, policy adviser, analyst, author, academic, consultant, senior manager and NGO director, in a variety of contexts around the world. He has a particular specialism in reconciliation processes, dealing with the past, and the relationship between reconciliation and transitional justice. He has also served as an adviser to governments and others (including UNDP, UNICEF, EU, NATO) on reconciliation in various contexts, including Iraq, Tunisia, Lebanon, Israel-Palestine, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, South Africa, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Kosovo, Ukraine, Kyrghyzstan, Ireland, Colombia, etc.

He has worked as an academic at the universities of Harvard (US), Ulster (N.Ireland) and Bradford (UK). He holds an MA and PhD in peace studies from Bradford University (UK), and has published books, articles, chapters and monographs, on theory, practice and policy in peace-building, reconciliation, conflict transformation, conflict sensitivity, the role of non-state armed actors, the Irish conflict, and other peace-related issues. He now works as a conflict adviser to governments and INGOs around the world.


Stephen Champion gained his BA in photography at the Arts Institute Bournemouth and his MFA at the Arts institute San Francisco in the early 1980s. He then became a freelance portrait photographer in London and was published in many leading magazines at the time. His work has featured in many publications including City Limits, Tatler, Times, Telegraph, Blueprint, Conde Nast, Amnesty International, ICRC, Cafod, Hotshoe, Foto 8 and International Alert, to mention some.

From 1986 he developed new works in Sri Lanka, creating several exhibitions that were shown in both Sri Lanka and the UK and in 1993 his first book, Lanka 1986-1992, was published in the UK. His second book, Sri Lanka War Stories, was published in 2008 and Dharmadeepa in 2009. His Sri Lanka photographs have appeared worldwide in magazines, academic research papers, newspapers and films and the work has been exhibited internationally. His new and older works are bound together in ‘Colours of Change’ and are to be published as a series of hand made limited edition books during 2016.

Emeritus Consultant Child and Adolecent Psychiatrist.

Dr. Anula Kikapotae has been an STC for both WHO and UNICEF for many years while working in SE Asia. She has experience working in Lambeth, London related to children who have had experienced trauma / neglect / deprivation associated with parents who had mental health problems and/or problems of addiction. Dr Nikapota is the Chair of Samutthana, the King’s College London Resource Centre for Trauma, Displacement and Mental Health and is a member of the Presidential Task Force on Psychosocial Wellbeing in Sri Lanka.

Senior Professor of Psychiatry, Jaffna University

Professor Daya Somasundaram is a senior professor of psychiatry at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Jaffna, and a consultant psychiatrist working in northern Sri Lanka for over three decades. He has worked as a consultant psychiatrist at Glenside Hospital, supporting Survivors of Torture and Trauma Assistance and Rehabilitation Service (STTARS), and is a clinical associate professor at the University of Adelaide. He has also worked in Cambodia for two years in a community mental health programme with the Transcultural Psychosocial Organisation.

He has functioned as co-chair of the subcommittee on PTSD formed under the WHO working group on stress related disorders during the ICD-11 revision process. His book Scarred Minds: The Psychological Impact of War on Sri Lankan Tamils describes the psychological effects of war on individuals, while Scarred Communities, describes psychosocial consequences of disasters at the community level. Currently, he is also functioning as the co-chair of the Task Force on Psycho-social Support, Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR), and member of the Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms, Sri Lanka.


War Veteran & Senior Advisor for Nordic Crisis Management AS

Mike Seear is both a Northern Ireland Light Infantry veteran (1971-80) and Gurkha infantry combat veteran of the 1982 Falklands-Malvinas War. For the past decade he has been a Senior Associate for Kenyon International Emergency Services, the world’s largest disaster management company, and has delivered emergency response training to thirty-three international airlines and five international airports.

He also deployed last year to Marseille to assist with the emergency response of the German wings aircraft accident in the French Alps. Mike is also a Senior Advisor for Nordic Crisis Management AS based in Oslo.

Lucy Nightingale