Today we visited the National Institute for Mental Health in Colombo, a large psychiatric facility responsible for the care of 1006 inpatients at present. We were given a tour of the site by Samutthana counsellor, Duminda. We visited a perinatal unit, female and male forensic wards, the intensive care unit, female and male wards, geriatric wards, the learning disability unit and various rooms used to engage inpatients in occupational activities. In many ways the facilities exceeded those available in the UK. In other ways, the model and provision of care were very different; inpatients’ behaviour is controlled largely through sedation and ECT, for example.
It was an eye-opening day and we were grateful for the visit, especially as we were accompanied by Rebecca, a new Samutthana volunteer and experienced mental health nurse. Her insights gave us a very different perspective on the care being delivered at the NIMH. We were also grateful to be invited to discuss the role of Clinical Psychology in mental health services and had interesting conversations with current trainee psychiatrists, who were keen to learn about CBT and other psychological interventions.
After a long bus to Kandy, we’re preparing for a two-day workshop at the Kandy Cancer Society. Time for bed!