Discussion on strategies to address mental health issues among families of missing persons

Thursday, 12 June 2014 00:36 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Presidential Commission investigating cases of missing persons in Sri Lanka has focused its attention on providing psychological assistance to the families of persons went missing during the war. The Commission together with the Ministry of Health, the National Institute of Mental Health and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) recently organised a consultative meeting with mental health specialists in an effort to coordinate existing mechanisms to develop new strategies to address the mental health needs of families of missing persons. At the meeting that took place at the National Institute of Mental Health in Angoda, participants pointed out the significance in identifying already-existing resources in affected areas that could include government institutions and non-governmental organisations. The specialists also discussed methods of promoting community participation. Speakers at the meeting included Secretary of the Missing Persons Commission H.W. Gunadasa, Director of Mental Health at the Ministry of Health Dr. Rasanjali Hettiarachchi, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health Dr. Jayan Mendis, and the ICRC Deputy Head of Delegation David Quesne. The speakers unanimously pointed out the importance of understanding the specific issues the families of missing persons face. The strategies used must be with the objective of helping families cope with the various difficulties their situation presents and towards supporting them in strengthening the psychosocial support they need, the experts said. Government medical officers from the Northern and Eastern provinces, officials of the Ministry of Social Services and representatives of NGOs operating in the Northern and Eastern Provinces also participated in the meeting.