Transitions in Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services in Sri Lanka 2004 – 2015: A Decade in Review

Transitions in Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services in Sri Lanka 2004 – 2015: A Decade in Review, The Asia Foundation, Sri Lanka. 2016

This publication looks at the growth and transitions of the mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) sector in Sri Lanka over the period of a decade to better understand what aspects have acted as enablers and what factors have been challenges to the development and growth of the sector. The objective of the six studies in this volume was to explore key themes related to the sustainability of MHPSS services in transition during and after conflict and disaster in Sri Lanka, and to identify the main thematic concerns in published and grey literature related to sustainability and transition in MHPSS during the last ten years in Sri Lanka.

The first chapter MHPSS Services in Sri Lanka: A Review of the Literature 2005-2015, examines the history of the MHPSS sector and the development of MHPSS services from the post-tsunami period to the present day, which includes the end of the ceasefire from 2005 to the post-war period. A wide range of individual and community-based interventions are practiced under the term ‘MHPSS Services’ in response to the number of collective crises and disaster situations the country has faced. The chapter documents the on-going discussion about what it means to intergrate services and transform MHPSS in Sri Lanka to a more community-based model of care. The chapter also highlights that while the need for coordination/networking/dialogue was considered important in the MHPSS sector, there has been little documentation of what was a critical dialogue at this time.

The second chapter, Sustainability of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services after Disaster and Conflict in Sri Lanka: A Desk Review of the Literature, examines how issues related to ‘sustainability’ have been explored and understood in the research and policy literature on
MHPSS. The study reveals a limited focus on sustainability within the published and grey literature, but outlines both some of the assumptions around sustainability as well as more empirically based insights that have been documented.

Chapter three, Mapping the Roles of Community-Level Government Service Providers Relevant to Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services in Sri Lanka, illustrates the wide range of service providers available at community-level in 2015, through the results of rapid mapping of
personnel in two Divisional Secretariat divisions of Batticaloa District, Manmunai North and Koralaipattu North (Vakarai).

Chapter four, Sustainability and Transitions in Coordination of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services, 2004-2014, explores sustainability of mechanisms established to coordinate MHPSS services during and after conflict and disaster in Sri Lanka. The study of three coordination mechanisms in Jaffna, Vavuniya and Batticaloa highlights the key factors that impacted on their functioning and sustainability.

Chapter five, Sustaining Non Governmental Organisation Services for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support During Transition Periods, 2004-2014, provides insight into some key challenges associated with sustaining services in the context of post-emergency transitions, as well as identifies the factors that exacerbated and mitigated these with reference to non governmental organisation MHPSS service providers in Sri Lanka.

Chapter six, Surviving Transitions: A Case Study of the Preventing Gender-Based Violence Task Force, Batticaloa, 2004-2015 examines the transitions that took place in the external context, politics and ideology, structure and functioning and leadership of the Preventing Gender-Based Violence Task Force in Batticaloa, illustrating some of the challenges of sustaining multiagency, inter-sectoral cooperation during and after emergencies.

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