Who We Are:
Samutthana is the King’s College London Resource Centre for Trauma, Displacement and Mental Health (Colombo, Sri Lanka). The aim of Samutthana is to provide training and support for organisations and individuals responding to trauma in Sri Lanka. Through its training programmes, Samutthana aims to contribute to capacity building in Sri Lanka’s disaster preparedness and mental health care in general. Samutthana is a not-for-profit organisation registered under Sri Lankan law with an accountable Board of Directors, supported by the UK-Sri Lanka Trauma Group (UKSLTG-London).
PTSD in Sri Lanka:
Twin disasters, Tsunami in 2004 and the 26-year civil war, left many people traumatised, and a number of mental health problems began to develop. Civil war resulted in profound health consequences including death, injury, infectious disease and malnutrition. It also resulted in the destruction of social networks, family separation, human rights abuses, and socio-political marginalisation, which has contributed to long-term physical and psychological sequela.
Limited mental health resources and cultural stigmatisation of psychological problems have resulted in gross mental health conditions. With only one mental-health professional for every 120,000 people, less than 5 per cent of those who need help are getting it. Approximately 68% of Jaffna residents experienced at least one major trauma event, and most individuals experienced multiple traumas. Today, almost 5 years after the end of conflict, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) remains as one of the major issues which need to be addressed urgently.
Mental health has not yet been prioritised to the degree it ought to be. This is why Samutthana is focusing on supporting the development of more holistic and less medicalised services that promote recovery, and that people can access in the community. This is not just restricted to the North-East but to the entire country. Our vision is that more people with mental health problems can take part in society and fulfil their potential.
In order to make effective use of our professional skills and expertise, Samutthana liaises directly with mental health professionals – psychiatrists and psychologists, doctors and nurses, lawyers and counsellors, sociologists and social workers, community workers and relief workers, clergy and teachers – who in turn work with those who have been traumatised by their experience. We train and support these professionals to improve their skills in order that they can better deal with the psychological consequences of Sri Lanka’s post-war era. Our work is primarily aimed at benefiting the armed forces, former detainees, former combatants, former child-soldiers, victims of torture, war-widows, orphans and the internally displaced, etc.
We firmly believe that we can make a difference to those who have suffered mental trauma over a long period of time, to recover to a life of respect, responsibility and dignity.