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New training for Sri Lankan psychologists following 2004 Tsunami

FEBRUARY 12, 2008

Courtesy of a grant by the Lupina Foundation, the new MPhil course began on 12 February 2008 with six Sri Lankan trainees.  When they graduate in two years time, this will double the number of clinical psychologists working with the 20 million population in Sri Lanka.

The King's College London Resource Centre for Trauma Displacement and Mental Health in Sri Lanka was established back in 2006, called Samutthana (Sanskrit for renewal and regeneration) to offer psychological services to the local community in the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami.   This February sees the establishment of a new MPhil Psychology training course at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka to encourage more students to train as psychologists to work in this centre and importantly to graduate other psychologists for Sri Lankan Mental Health services.

It was the Sri Lankan Mental Health Minister, Nimal Sripala de Silva who first identified a crucial need to establish both clinical psychology and community mental health nursing services in the country.  This centre is one important response to this requirement.  Having established the centre, psychologists there recognised the need to train a sustainable work force to support on-going psychological work.  They have been trying hard to set up a high level university based clinical psychology training course ever since and are delighted that this first MPhil course is now up and running. 

Staff of the Institute of Psychiatry and SLaM with connections in Sri Lanka have been working in Columbo since 1996 helping local groups to mitigate the effects of the ethnic conflict.

UK-Sri Lanka Trauma Group a UK registered charity of mental health professionals mainly from SlaM Foundation Trust, IOP/Kings and University of East London was helped by King’s College Development Office to obtain a grant from CAFOD to establish Samutthana the King’s College London Resource Centre for Trauma Displacement and Mental Health in Sri Lanka with local partners. 

Samutthana has a resource centre in Colombo the capital of Sri Lanka and outposts in the South (Hambantota), the East (Batticaloa) and the North (Jaffna) in 2006.  SLaM has been generous in its support by allowing staff time to travel to participate in training during the past two years.  This has already resulted in many local groups receiving training in mental health service delivery and helped to develop and establish the clinical psychology course.

The planning group for the training was made up of the late Mr Padmal de Silva, Dr Shamil Wanigaratne and Professor William Yule at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Institute of Psychiatry, and Professor Rachel Tribe from the University of East London.   The course will benefit from the expertise of psychologists from the UK who will visit regularly until the course can be self-sustaining.  For more details please visit:

Notes to Editors
The UK Sri Lanka Trauma Group (UKSLTG) is a registered charity in the UK whose membership and executive include internationally recognised experts in the trauma field including psychologists, child psychiatrists and adult psychiatrists. UKSLTG is largely made up of Sri Lankan experts based at the Institute of Psychiatry South London and Maudsley NHS Trust and other NHS Trusts as well as British experts from the IOP and other institutions such as the University of East London who have a long history of involvement in Sri Lanka. They have an established track record of working in Sri Lanka over the last 11 years, with traumatised populations, initially in the context of that island’s civil conflict.

CAFOD is the international aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, sharing in the Church’s task of transforming the world to reflect the Kingdom of God, through solidarity with the poor and action for justice.  CAFOD’s mission is to promote human development and social justice in witness to Christian faith and Gospel values.
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