A multidisciplinary team from CAMH held consultations at New Horizons for Integral Peace in Sri Lanka, a rehabilitation centre
for people with alcohol and other drug addictions that is supported by CIDA.
Batticaloa was once a peaceful east-coast city in Sri Lanka, where fishing was the focus of people’s lives. But two decades
of civil war and the devastating 2004 tsunami have left deep social scars and widespread personal trauma.
“With the army on every corner and the regular sound of artillery, people can’t escape the war,” says Nalini Pandalangat,
manager of a CAMH project team participating in a three-year mental health initiative in Sri Lanka. CAMH is working with government
officials, mental health providers, community workers, teachers and academics to help build a mental health strategy and psychosocial
programs to address the population’s massive needs.
CAMH received a $1.75 million grant from the Canadian International Development Agency’s (CIDA) tsunami reconstruction fund,
following a fact-finding mission in 2004 led by CAMH President and CEO Dr. Paul Garfinkel.
The CAMH team includes staff from the Community Support and Research Unit, led by Dr. John Trainor; the Office of International
Health under Akwatu Khenti; and the Mood and Anxiety Program under Dr. Arun Ravindran. The team has travelled twice to Sri
“Many of the children are suffering from trauma—from the war, personal losses, the threat of conscription as child soldiers,
and abuse at home, which is soaring as families struggle to survive,” says CAMH’s Akwatu Khenti, who will be returning to
Sri Lanka to work on a Healthy Schools Project. “Teachers need training to identify and deal with mental health issues. Lots
of the kids are having trouble learning. The schools can play a positive role.”
Other CAMH team members will work with health teams, government officials and community partners to build local expertise
and resources that are critical to address the country’s widespread mental health needs, as well as to inform our provision
of culturally competent care at home in Ontario.
Working with the World Health Organization
Three scientists from the CAMH Social, Prevention and Health Policy Research Department are contributing to projects of the
World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations’ health agency:
- Dr. Carles Muntaner is co-chair of the Employment Conditions Network of the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health.
- Dr. Jürgen Rehm was appointed to the WHO Expert Panel on Drug Dependence and Alcohol Problems.
- Dr. Louis Gliksman is CAMH’s co-ordinator at the WHO. He fosters connections that help build research capacity and that generate
policies and strategies to improve health conditions in developing countries. He is also Principal Investigator on the Global
Making Connections: Integration in Mental Health and Addiction