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2 months ago · · 0 comments

Passing of Our Esteemed Colleague, Diana Cunningham

It is with deep sadness that Samutthãna announces the passing away of Diana Cunningham MBE in UK on the 30th of April, after a brief illness.  An expert by experience, she has worked with UK Sri Lanka Trauma Group(UK-SLTG) and Samutthãna for over seven years on service user empowerment in Sri Lanka. A pioneer in establishing Recovery Colleges in the UK, she has been working with Samutthãna to establish this in Sri Lanka.  She made many visits to Sri Lanka on this project and was working with Samutthãna as recently as February 2024. She was an inspirational speaker and encouraged service users, to fight stigma and become visible and to organise themselves to help themselves and others. Her life story was extraordinary and an inspiration to those living with mental illness. She was passionate and worked tirelessly. She believed wholeheartedly in the power of education, peer support, and community to transform lives and create lasting change. Diana had established a reputation in Sri Lanka, and her workshops at Samutthãna and NIMH were packed to capacity. With the help of UK-SLTG and Samutthãna she formed a small working group to establish a Recovery College in Sri Lanka and we hope this group will take her dream forward and add to her legacy. She will be deeply missed by all who had the privilege of knowing her, and her memory will forever be cherished within our Samutthãna Team. We offer our deepest sympathies to her family and loved ones.
May she rest in peace.


3 months ago · · 0 comments

Recovery College

Welcome to the Recovery College at Samutthana!

Recovery College is a transformative approach to mental health education and support, offering a diverse range of courses and workshops designed to empower individuals on their journey to recovery and well-being. At Samutthana, we believe in the inherent resilience and potential for growth within every individual, regardless of their mental health challenges.

Our Recovery College offers a supportive and inclusive learning environment where individuals can explore topics such as self-esteem, stress management, mindfulness, and resilience. Through peer support, education, and experiential learning, participants gain valuable insights, skills, and strategies to enhance their mental health and quality of life.

Key Features of Recovery College at Samutthana:

– Co-Delivery: Learn from a team of facilitators including individuals with lived experience and mental health professionals.
– Peer Support: Connect with others who share similar experiences and challenges in a supportive and non-judgmental environment.
– Empowerment: Discover your strengths and abilities while learning practical tools and techniques to navigate life’s challenges.
– Holistic Approach: Explore a variety of topics related to mental health and well-being, addressing the mind, body, and spirit.
– Community Engagement: Engage with the broader community to promote mental health awareness, reduce stigma, and foster social inclusion.

Whether you’re seeking personal growth, recovery from mental health challenges, or simply interested in learning more about mental health and well-being, the Recovery College at Samutthana welcomes you with open arms. Join us on this journey of discovery, healing, and transformation.

Ready to get started? Explore our upcoming courses and workshops, meet our team of dedicated facilitators, and embark on a path towards greater well-being and resilience. Together, we can create a community where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

Contact Us:

For more information about the Recovery College at Samutthana, or to inquire about upcoming courses, workshops, and events, please feel free to reach out to us. You can contact our team via email at or by phone at +94721316884. We are here to support you on your journey to recovery and well-being, and we look forward to hearing from you soon.

3 months ago · · 0 comments

DBT Skills Training

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is a modified type of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). “Dialectical” means combining opposite ideas. Its primary objectives are to provide people the skills necessary to live in the present, regulate their emotions, develop healthy coping mechanisms for stressful situations, and enhance interpersonal connections.


This intensive training explores DBT’s theoretical basis, specific DBT interventions, and how to teach skills in individual and group settings. Familiarity with these skills and techniques along with experiential exercises will enhance your clinical skills and professional development.

Level 1: An introduction to DBT. A 3 day training course introducing professionals to the Philosophical underpinning of DBT, the key components of therapy and therapeutic communication strategies.

Level 2: Learning the DBT Skills. A 5 day course teaching professionals the DBT skills in Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Emotional Regulation, and Interpersonal Effectiveness.

Level 3: A DBT Masterclass. A 5 day course in developing a DBT service and exploring the 4 components of DBT in a “how to’ manner, covering individual sessions, skills group training, crisis coaching and practitioners consult.


To sum up, our DBT skills training course equips mental health professionals with invaluable tools to effectively support individuals dealing with emotional dysregulation and distress. With comprehensive instruction spanning beginner to advanced levels, participants will gain proficiency in various aspects of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy.

Stay tuned for updates on the course commencement in August and details regarding intake, which we’ll promptly share across all our social media platforms. For any inquiries or further information about the program, feel free to reach out to us via our hotline or email:

Hotline: +94 72 131 6884 (09:00am – 05:00pm)
Email: /

We look forward to welcoming you on this transformative journey towards enhancing mental health care in Sri Lanka.

7 months ago · · Comments Off on Professor William Yule

Professor William Yule

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved colleague, Professor Bill Yule, who left us on 05th of November, 2023. He touched the lives of so many and will be deeply missed.

Professor Bill Yule was a great friend of Samutthana and was instrumental in the negotiations with King’s College to form it. He has supported UK-SLTG and Samutthana through their existence and was a key figure in setting up the M.Phil. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Colombo. He visited Sri Lanka many times to run training workshops and to consult. This is a great loss to us all and to Sri Lanka.

He was renowned internationally for his pioneering research on understanding and treating the effects of trauma on children, and helped set up the Foundation for Children and War. He was an advisor to UNICEF during the civil war in former Yugoslavia, and was part of the UK Sri Lanka Trauma Group, an international group of mental health professionals working together to find a practical way of helping Sri Lanka respond to war related trauma in the country.

May the soul of Professor Bill Yule find eternal rest.

4 years ago · · Comments Off on Helping frontline workers cope with stress during COVID-19: actions for team leads

Helping frontline workers cope with stress during COVID-19: actions for team leads

Going to work during the COVID-19 pandemic has placed front-line workers under immense and unprecedented pressures, putting their physical, mental and social well-being at risk. Staff under excessive or prolonged stress become more prone to frequent absence from work or reduced productivity while at work, accidents and mistakes. In the COVID-19 pandemic, this may mean compromised quality and safety of care, breach of protocols and guidelines, increased risk of infections, and compromised capacity of the health system and emergency response teams to fight the pandemic.

While front-line workers have the responsibility of caring for themselves and verbalising their needs and concerns, many of the efforts to prevent and reduce stress and care for mental health of front-line workers must be made by organisations, managers and health administrators.

Five steps to a mentally healthy workplace

Step 1: Show your commitment

– Declare that mental health is a priority to your organisation, starting from the very top.

Step 2: Assess the situation

– Start by assessing the work stressors and mental health needs in the workplace.

Step 3: Make an action plan

– Translate your assessment into a reasonable and practical action plan with set targets and clear indicators to measure progress.

Step 4: Implement and evaluate

– Put your plan to action with clear milestones and targets.

Step 5: Learn and mainstream

– Use regular evaluations to make the needed adjustments. Mainstream your mental health action plan into a clear written policy.

Actions team leads can take to help front-line workers cope with stress during COVID-19

Prepare them for the job

– They must have a clear understanding of their own roles and responsibilities.

– Adequate training must be provided on occupational health and safety topics (e.g. use of Personal Protective Equipment and Infection Protection and Control measures as well as technical training needed to perform their duties (e.g. the latest guidelines and procedures for assessing, triaging and treating patients).

Help them care for themselves

– Provide them with information on stress, how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and when to seek further support.

– Equip them with tools and techniques for self-care and stress management and encourage workers to practice these healthy coping strategies regularly.

Protect them on the job

– Provide front-line workers with sufficient Personal Protective Equipment and Infection Protection and Control supplies to protect themselves from infection.

– Protect them from incidents of harassment and violence, including physical as well as legal protection.

– Protect and uphold their rights.

Create a healthy work environment

– Tackle the sources of stress by ensuring appropriate work hours and workload, sufficient breaks between shifts, and that tasks are well-matched to skills and experience-level.

– Consider rotating staff between high-stress and low-stress tasks to distribute pressures.

– Give workers access to the tools they need to deliver safe and high-quality care or services.

– Use regular written communications and team meetings to check-in with workers and keep them up to date with the latest technical tools and guidelines or other pertinent information.

– Use these meetings to also foster team cohesion, and allow front-line workers to voice their concerns or needs, or participate in decision-making in a meaningful way.

Be a good role model

– Adhere to health and safety guidelines.

– Practice healthy coping strategies by taking work breaks, demonstrating healthy habits (diet, hydration, physical activity) and avoiding the use of tobacco, alcohol or other substances.

– Set the tone by caring for yourself. Maintain a healthy work-life balance and practice the stress-management and relaxation techniques that are recommended.

Encourage peer support

– Create a formal or informal platform where peers can share knowledge and provide basic psycho-social support through peer networks, under the supervision of mental health and psycho-social support professionals.

– Establish a buddy-system that allows pairing of inexperienced front-line workers with their more experienced workers, thus providing professional support.

Be perceptive and supportive

– Familiarise yourself with the signs and symptoms of stress and burnout, and practice active listening and supportive communication when you approach the front-line workers you are concerned about.

– Pay extra attention to front-line workers who have pre-existing physical or mental health conditions or disabilities, who are facing challenges in their personal lives and those who lack social support.

Give feedback and recognition

– Give front-line workers constructive feedback on their work, highlighting their good performance and opportunities to improve.

– Show appreciation for hard work, and give public recognition to teams and individuals for their service. Small gestures and rewards can go a long way in boosting confidence and staff morale.

Make services available

– Make sure further mental health and psycho-social support services are available for front-line workers who need them, and that they are aware that they can access services confidentially.

– Front-line workers need to also have access to mental health care facilities in case of crisis situations, and psychotropic medications need to be made available to them if they are needed.

Note: This article was shared by World Health Organisation (WHO). Original link is attached below.

4 years ago · · Comments Off on Helping front-line workers cope with stress during COVID-19: actions for peers

Helping front-line workers cope with stress during COVID-19: actions for peers


As a peer, there are multiple ways you can support your colleagues cope with stress, and stay mentally healthy or manage their mental health conditions at work. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has placed front-line workers under immense and unprecedented pressures, and put their physical, mental and social well-being at risk.

Peers are able to offer each other personal and professional support in unique ways, and this enables the collaborative problem-solving needed in such unprecedented emergency situations. Not only is supporting colleagues beneficial to the collective performance and relationships at work, but can also promote your own well-being and job satisfaction. Here are some actions you can take to support your peers cope with stress during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Actions peers can take to help front-line workers cope with stress during COVID-19

Be considerate

– Take a minute to consider what types of behaviours might be stressful or distracting to your colleagues who share your workspace and try to be as considerate as possible.

– Casually check-in with colleagues, and ask them to let you know if they would like you to make any changes to your office practices.

Offer support

– Reach out to a colleague if you notice that they are overwhelmed with their work, and ask them how you may be able to support during stressful periods by sharing your expertise or your time while also being mindful of your own well-being.

Strengthen social networks

– Put effort into building a friendly rapport with colleagues and cultivating a collaborative work environment for the team’s well-being.

– Make sure you offer your colleagues support, and consider doing simple actions such as having a coffee break or lunch together, or perhaps taking up a sport or a fun activity.

Participate and become a change agent

– Advocate for innovative ways to create a mentally healthy work environment such as organising an anti-stigma campaign or holding activities to raise awareness.

– Urge your employer to offer stress management education and mental health services.

Check-in and go the extra mile

– Find a moment to ask your colleague how they are doing in private. If they share with you their stress or problems, acknowledge them and listen to them attentively, empathetically and without judgement. If they would rather not talk, respect their privacy and let them know that you are available whenever they need.

– If they are receptive to support, encourage your colleague to think of something they can do to feel better like draw on the positive coping mechanisms they have practised in the past, or brainstorm practical steps they can take to help themselves.

Encourage awareness and help-seeking

– Help colleagues recognise the signs and symptoms of stress, burnout or other mental health conditions, and encourage them to seek support.

– Familiarise yourself with the available mental health services inside or outside your workplace, and offer to connect them.

– Remind your colleagues that seeking help is not a sign of weakness, and that caring for oneself is rather a sign of courage and resilience.

– When a colleague returns to work after time off for their mental health, do your best to behave sensitively yet normally. Reassurance, support and respect from colleagues will help the person rebuild self-esteem and reintegrate in the workplace environment.


– Consider becoming a worker representative, well-being champion or peer supporter. Search for training programmes, and ask your organisation if they may be willing to support you.

– Join, if your workplace has a peer support group. This may be an especially powerful tool if you are someone with lived experience of a mental health condition.

Have zero tolerance for bullying or harassment

– If you witness a colleague being bullied or harassed at work, make sure to acknowledge the act, show your support and encourage them to take the action they find most convenient to them.

– Advocate for and participate in awareness-raising campaigns aimed at fostering safe, healthy and harmonious workplaces free from violence and harassment.

Deal with suicide

– If your colleague indicates that they are about to intentionally harm themselves or commit suicide, remove access to means and do not leave them alone. Seek immediate support from health services.

– If you learn that a colleague has attempted suicide, the best approach is to offer kind non-judgemental support and a listening ear if they wish to use it. If appropriate, you can encourage them to reach out to health or counselling services, and offer to call or go there together.

Note: This article was shared by World Health Organisation (WHO). The original link is attached below.

4 years ago · · Comments Off on Frontline workers and COVID-19: coping with stress

Frontline workers and COVID-19: coping with stress

Going to work during this COVID-19 pandemic has placed front-line workers under immense and unprecedented pressure, putting their physical, mental and social well-being at risk. Exposure to excessive stress, for prolonged periods can have many harmful consequences on the emotional and mental well-being of front-line workers. It can:

  • Lead to burnout.
  • Trigger the onset of common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
  • Result in unhealthy behaviours like using tobacco, alcohol or other substances, which may lead to substance use disorders.
  • Result in frequent absence from work or reduced productivity while at work.
  • Increase the risk of suicide among front-line workers, particularly healthcare workers.

In the context of COVID-19, this may mean compromised quality and safety of care, breach of protocols and guidelines, increased risk of infections, and compromised capacity of the health system and emergency response teams. While many of the efforts to reduce stress and care for front-line workers must be made by organisations, managers and health administrators, front-line workers can also take actions to cope with stress.

Actions front-line workers can take to cope with stress during COVID-19

Put things in perspective

– Take stock of which things are within your control, and which challenges you have no control over.

– Spend some time each day recounting a few of the things you have accomplished.

Stay informed

– Seek information from reliable sources such as WHO and your local health authority on topics such as case identification, Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) or any topic relevant to your role in the response.

– Consider taking an online course from a trusted provider, and keep these tools accessible in the field.

Avoid information overload

– Try to limit your exposure to media coverage as much as possible, including through social media.

– Avoid sources of unverified medical information and try to avoid the spread of myths and rumours.

Stay connected

– Reach out to friends and family members via text or video chat, and join meals or social activities virtually.

– Exchange support with trusted colleagues at work, as many may be having similar experiences.

– Consider creating a formal or informal platform where you and your colleagues can share knowledge and discuss some ethical dilemmas you are facing.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle

– Maintain a healthy diet, stay well-hydrated, and try to get at least a few minutes of exercise a day.

– Rest during any downtime at work and get enough sleep between shifts.

– Avoid unhealthy coping behaviours such as using tobacco, alcohol or other substances.

Take better care of yourself

– Make time to do simple actions that bring joy, comfort and boost self-esteem on a regular basis.

– Practice techniques like breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, grounding and mindfulness.

Know your limits

– If you feel too overwhelmed and unable to cope, consider what actions you can take to relieve some of your burdens at work or at home and discuss these with your supervisor or family members.

– It is also essential to monitor yourself for symptoms and immediately report exposure incidents or if you suspect that you may be infected.

Advocate for yourself

– Familiarise yourself with your rights to advocate for yourself. For example, clarify your rights for compensation and treatment in case of infection or legal protection from harassment and violence.

– Communicate openly with your supervisor and ask for the support you need, such as work adjustments (e.g. flexible schedule, rotation to less stressful tasks), more protective equipment or further training.

– Consider appointing an advocate like a trusted senior colleague instead of raising concerns individually.

Adhere to your treatment

– If you are receiving treatment for a mental health condition, stick to your medications, and communicate with your mental healthcare provider about making adjustments to your regimen if needed.

– Where face-to-face psychological support is difficult, search for virtual alternatives.

Seek professional help

– Seek help from a health professional if your feelings of distress persist and it becomes difficult to cope with your daily activities at work or at home. This could be your doctor or a psychiatrist or therapist.

– Consider utilising some local resources that have been developed for the COVID-19 response such as psychological support hotlines and remote counselling services.

Note: This article was shared by World Health Organisation (WHO). The original link is attached below.

4 years ago · · Comments Off on Mental Health and COVID-19

Mental Health and COVID-19

World Health Organization defines COVID-19 as an infectious disease which spreads primarily through the droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes. At this time there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19.
World Health Organization declared the outbreak of a new coronavirus disease to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in January 2020. In March 2020, World Health Organization made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic. At the time of writing this article, over 4,210,539 people have been infected with around 1,452,984 recoveries and over 287,564 deaths.
COVID-19 is not just a simple medical phenomenon. It affects individuals and communities on many different levels, including psychological disruptions. Effects of the outbreak of COVID-19 may include fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, changes in sleep or eating patterns, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, worsening of chronic health problems, worsening of mental conditions, increase of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs etc.
Older people and people with chronic diseases, children and teens, people who are helping with the response to COVID-19 such as doctors, other health care providers and first responders, people who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use may respond strongly to COVID-19.