Improving access to Mental Health Training and Supervision for Counsellors and CSOs in the Northern Districts.

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The Blossom Trust has generously funded several projects in the Northern districts including a training program for counsellors working with the Sri Lankan charity, Family Rehabilitation Centre that focused on working with victims of trauma including survivors of torture. More recent projects have focused on improving access to mental training and supervision for counsellors and community support officers (CSOs) in the Northern Districts. Previous training projects have included working with trauma and introducing the Tree of Life and Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET)and key tenets of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to support people with anxiety, depression, trauma, grief, substance misuse and psychosis. Other trainings have included developing skills in counselling, crisis management and risk assessment.

The need for training and supervision for counsellors and particularly, CSOs working in the northern districts is on-going. A UKSLTG volunteer conducted a follow up visit to Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu in December 2018 and it became clear that the CSOs are in great need of receiving more psychological training. Whilst many of the CSOs have received some psychological training many have not. There is a need to refresh knowledge and skills, and to up skill those CSOs who have had little or no training. Approximately a third of CSOs had not received any training in psychological skills. Following the review, Samutthãna colleagues offered some follow up training before the pandemic put a stop to a planned residential training program. We hope to explore how we can help provide remote training and supervision training over the next year with a view to offering further training programs once travel is again permitted.