The Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine says that despite some of the health indicators of Sri Lanka are standing equal to that of developed countries, due to lifestyle changes there is an increasing of non-communicable diseases and mental health issues.
Also, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne says that 10% of the population of the country are suffering from various mental health problems.
“More than eight hundred thousand people suffer from depression. Suicide is also a problem. Social structure and collapse of the family unit causes mental health issues. There are also problems with children’s mental health. But we have been focusing on mental health in Sri Lanka over the past two decades.”
“In 2014, after the tsunami, a national plan was implemented to uplift mental health through political commitment. It was implemented covering all over the country and steps were taken to create a National Mental Health Policy during 2005 -2015”, said by Minister Rajitha Senaratne addressing the first Global Assembly for Ministers of Mental Health in London, Britain.
Minister Rajitha Senaratne, who points outs towards many health ministers around other countries that free health and education is in progress for almost 7 decades, emphasized that human resource development is mandatory in the field of mental health services.
Therefore, the Minister has stated that steps have been taken to increase psychiatrists and the staff, and doctors have also been given with proper training.
“A year-long diploma program was conducted for mental health nurses. Medical officers in mental health were appointed at district level. Development projects to educate the public, with the participation of schools and communities, were launched from the national level to the rural level. Mobile clinics and rehabilitation programs were implemented. Volunteer organizations also contributed to this. We must eliminate negative attitudes towards the mentally ill. “
Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, who points out to the international community that the myths and misconceptions towards mentally ill people should be minimized, emphasizes that the Media should do a great deal of work.
“I feel that the Media is cable of this. News reporting in relate to mental health violating media ethics should be avoided. The Media should pay close attention when reporting on sensitive issues, such as suicide, violence, substance abuse etc.”
The Health Minister further stated that there are various measures to reduce the use of tobacco in Sri Lanka, adding that mental health should be strengthened.
“Mental health should be built with a social and cultural understanding. People’s struggles and reasons for suicides need to be identified and addressed to solution”, further said by Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne.