Pioneering Program Addresses Trauma Head-On
February 3, 2021
Hardship and suffering have been woven into the tapestry of Sri Lanka for decades. The nation’s 30-year ethnic civil war between Tamils and Sinhalese Buddhists left bitter sectarian tensions, unresolved grief, and the trauma of loss. The war was still raging when the Asian tsunami struck in 2004, causing 30,000 deaths. The terrorist bombings that traumatized the capital on Easter Sunday, 2019, were followed in less than a year by the lockdowns and social upheavals of Covid-19. Widespread national trauma and high rates of suicide have put mental health and psychosocial support services on the national agenda.
Ten years ago, at a time when mental health rarely appeared in development programming, The Asia Foundation launched its pioneering Victims of Trauma Treatment Program in the country’s Northern and Eastern Provinces to provide psychosocial support to individuals and communities devastated by the trauma of war. Initially a collaboration with local NGOs, the VTTP today has grown into a national program connected to three government ministries.
When Covid-19 struck, we rushed to help our partners respond, training frontline providers in psychological first aid, adapting the curriculum for Family Court counselors to address a dramatic rise in domestic violence, developing a remote counseling system for the Family Rehabilitation Center, and helping these overtaxed caregivers replenish their own mental health. Here are their stories.
Mihiri Ferdinando is director of The Asia Foundation’s Mental Health and Psychosocial Services program in Sri Lanka, and Gemunu Amarasinghe is a media specialist. They can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected], respectively. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors, not those of The Asia Foundation.
The authors would like to thank photographer Sujeewa De Silva, who masterfully completed this photo shoot amid the pandemic.
About our blog, InAsia
InAsia is posted and distributed every other Wednesday evening, Pacific Time. If you have any questions, please send an email to [email protected].
ContactFor questions about InAsia, or for our cross-post and re-use policy, please send an email to [email protected].
The Asia Foundation
465 California St., 9th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94104
PO Box 193223
San Francisco, CA 94119-3223
HIGHLIGHTS ACROSS ASIA
Afghanistan Flash Surveys on Perceptions of Peace, Covid-19 & the Economy
April 29, 2021
Afghanistan Flash Surveys on Perceptions of Peace, Covid-19, and the Economy: Wave 3 Findings
April 28, 2021
Back-to-Back Spikes of Covid Wrack India, Nepal
April 28, 2021
Sustainable Fashion Pioneer Eileen Fisher and Sri Lanka’s Women In Need to be Honored at 2021 Lotus Leadership Awards
April 20, 2021
Impact Report 2020
Leading through change