WHO Sri Lanka's Peacebuilding and Violence Prevention training programme, Manohari, continues with a five day training workshop for mental health workers in the Northern Provence.

As part of the WHO’s involvement in the Peacebuilding process in Sri Lanka a programme of workshops to build conflict resolution skills in Community Leaders is being undertaken throughout the country.

Under the auspices of the Directorate of Mental Health, Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, the “Manohari” programme is an innovative and effective way of implementing community-based interventions for people facing social inequalities and living in conflict affected areas.

“Manohari” crosses cultural boundaries in Sri Lanka – in English it means Harmony, something the programme seeks to bring to the communities where the techniques learned will be practiced. The programme is implemented by WHO SL with the support of the Peacebuilding Fund.

“Manohari” is ground- breaking in many ways, bringing together specialists in psychiatry, social work, psychology, counselling and drama therapy, all working together in “harmony” to deliver the training designed specifically for Sri Lankan communities.

In late July, an intensive workshop on improving societal emotional wellbeing involving community workers for the Mannar district was held at the SevaLanka Foundation’s Islander Centre near Anuradhapura.

The Twenty participants spent a week together learning how to help their communities deal with a range of negative behaviours including violence against women and children.

Having completed their training, the participants will return to their communities, ready to put into practice what they have learned.

Manohari was initially piloted in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts in mid-2017 with the participation of 55 community mental health workers from both the districts. These participants have to-date have conducted over 50 sessions in their communities.

Dr Ravindra Ranasinha leading a role-playing session

The programme was delivered by a multidisciplinary team of psychosocial experts including a Senior Consultant Psychiatrist, a Clinical Psychologist, a Drama therapist, a Senior Counsellor and a Senior Psychiatric Social Worker.

Beginning with an examination of how the participants themselves dealt with their own emotions and conflicts, the programme modules led them through various situations and techniques, eventually bringing them to the point that they would be able to teach others in the communities they serve effective emotional control and understanding.

Words of wisdom to the participants from Ramon Magsaysay Laureate Gethsie Shanmugam

The Progamme was coordinated by the Office of the Provincial Director Health Services in Northern Province and the Regional Directorate of Health Services in Mannar.