III: Mental Health Initiatives as Peace Initiatives in Sri Lankan School Children Affected by Armed Conflict

The Health Reach Sri Lanka project (1993-96) is described. It was a school-based assessment of children’s exposure to war-related events and the presence of psychological distress, undertaken in six communities in parts of Sri Lanka variously affected by armed conflict. Its objectives, methods and results are presented. The research project aimed to raise national awareness of the psychosocial effects of armed conflict on children, using a community-development approach to local capacity building, based on the ‘health initiative as peace initiative’ model. As a follow-up to the study, a locally run programme, based on creative play and trauma-healing, was established, initially for the children involved in the study. This was later extended to other children in the district affected by armed conflict.

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