I apologize for the lack of posts over the last 2 weeks. I have been to visit the wonderful people in the Colombo Institute of Research and Psychology and the National Institute of Mental Health, Angoda.Then of course I had to deal with copious amounts of work/emails upon my return, which I am sure will fill exciting posts to come.
When I embarked upon this research journey, I also signed up for the Global Leaders Programme at Coventry University. I did this to become a part of the global healthcare community and reach key opinion leaders with the same directive goals as myself…Starting the conversation has always been the most productive way to make change happen. Indeed, it has already put me in touch with some inspiring people, and this trip proved to be no different.
I have always had a keen interest in getting to know how the various healthcare systems across our globe work. We are all human… so what works best? I have already visited the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital in Banjul, The Gambia and the Gimbie Adventist Hospital, Ethiopia. With the help of Maternity Worldwide and clinical work placements, I was privileged to have the opportunity to see how our health care systems contrast and compare to other healthcare systems around the globe. I was excited to take part in this visit, which promised to enlighten us all to the mental healthcare provisions and psychology research in Sri Lanka.
Speaking with the researchers in the Colombo Institute of Research and Psychology, it was clear that their research shared the same concerns as western research. Healthy debates generated interesting insights into the work they were forming in breaking stigma and securing new funding for the people of Sri Lanka. However, their population base faces some new and very real challenges:
-Less than 1% of Sri Lankas healthcare budget is spent on the mental health care of the nation.
-Sri Lankan communities often use astrology and homeopathic remedies to treat mental ill health rather than access medical facilities.
– There are only 2 psychiatric consultants for the whole of Colombo and surrounding areas.
-Limited facilities for mother and baby units, which need more space for mentally unwell mothers and their families. (In Sri Lanka, reported maternal death due to suicide is notably high) – See Puerperal Psychosis.
– The stigma around mental health issues remains great in Sri Lanka, therefore many of those who may be ready to re-enter their communities following treatment have no where to return to. They become rejected by their families.
– This stigma creates a culture where those in need are reluctant to seek help.
– Families are keen not to disclose the mental ill health of loved ones and may isolate problems.
-Mental health facilities are used as holding places for those on remand following the identification of the antisocial behavioral symptoms of ill mental health.
Speaking to one of the consultant psychiatrists about these issues was so valuable to my research. Comparing the etiologies of psychological distress with the cultures and social norms of both populations highlighted how our UK populations may face triggers for distress which are entirely unique to the UK. Although some of these factors will also translate to other populations, it may be that specific factors correlate only with our own health care professionals, within western society.
From the point of view of research, this leaves much to be explored. How do we breakdown the populations into completely homogeneous samples? Is it ever possible to?
After speaking with Dr Shavindra Dias from the University of Peradeniya, (which by the way is the most beautiful university campus I have ever seen!) it is clear that the connections I have made throughout this research trip will last throughout my career as I continue to network with and learn from some of the most outstanding and inspirational leaders who take pride in making changes to ensure a brighter future for all. The struggle to improve the overall well being of society by authenticating and placing value upon the needs of those in psychological distress is hard. Yet I still believe that is the most noble and kind thing we can do for humanity. The connections I have made throughout this trip will forever remain a part of my professional journey going forward, and I would like to thank @ again for hosting such an amazing trip of discovery in partnership with @.
In addition to this wonderful experience we also visited:
-Galle Face Green
-The National Museum of Colombo
-International Maritime Museum in Colombo
– The National Elephant Orphanage
-The Temple of the Tooth
I hope to reunite with the amazing people I met here soon…. Perhaps for my up and coming Delphi Study?