Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)


- By Ameena Musthapha

To­day is World Men­tal Health Day and it comes amid the COVID-19 pan­demic which has dras­ti­cally af­fected the lives of peo­ple all over the world. The year 2020 has been filled with chal­lenges due to COVID-19 for ev­ery­one. Some have been af­fected more. They in­clude health-care work­ers who go to work fear­ing con­ta­gion, chil­dren who have their education dis­rupted and have no choice but to adapt to study­ing on­line, daily-wage work­ers whose liveli­hood has been threat­ened and gen­er­ally ev­ery­one feel­ing anx­ious about their fu­ture. For those caught in sit­u­a­tions of poverty and men­tal health ill­nesses the im­pact is also quite harder, hav­ing to face in­creased iso­la­tion and lack of sup­port. The cur­rent sit­u­a­tion is the worst for those who lost their loved ones due to COVID 19 and are griev­ing.

Given these cir­cum­stances, it is ap­par­ent that the need for promoting men­tal health and pro­vid­ing psy­choso­cial sup­port is cru­cial in the com­ing months and years. This calls for greater in­vest­ments in men­tal health pro­grammes, cam­paigns, and in­ter­ven­tions in many lev­els to en­sure well-be­ing of the so­ci­ety. How­ever, Sri Lanka and many other de­vel­op­ing coun­tries still suf­fer from chronic un­der­fund­ing and a lack of aware­ness of the need to pro­mote men­tal health. The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO), tak­ing the COVID- 19 pan­demic into con­sid­er­a­tion states, “the goal of this year’s World Men­tal Health Day cam­paign is in­creased in­vest­ment in men­tal health.”

Safa Coun­selling Cen­tre sit­u­ated in Kalubow­ila, is a project by the Sri Lanka Mus­lim Women’s Con­fer­ence which is an um­brella or­gan­i­sa­tion of many Mus­lim Women’s As­so­ci­a­tions. It was es­tab­lished in Novem­ber 2016 by Sikhamani Ameena Faisz Musthapha who is also the Pres­i­dent of the Sri Lanka Mus­lim Women’s Con­fer­ence as well as Safa Coun­selling Cen­tre. She is also a senior and pro­fes­sional coun­sel­lor, who ded­i­cates her time to pro­mote men­tal health and help­ing the com­mu­nity. She was for­merly a lec­turer at the Fam­ily Stud­ies and Ser­vices In­sti­tute which is a pi­o­neer or­ga­ni­za­tion in mar­riage and pre-mar­riage coun­selling. Safa Coun­selling Cen­tre is a ser­vice-ori­ented or­ga­ni­za­tion, which strives to as­sist the com­mu­nity in the way of coun­selling, aware­ness pro­grammes, train­ing of train­ers pro­grammes (TOT) and pre-mar­riage work­shops.

Safa launched many projects- namely mar­riage work­shops which were to pre­pare young men and women for mar­riage. Due to the se­vere in­crease of di­vorce rates in the coun­try, the Safa team, as coun­sel­lors felt the need to try to ad­dress this is­sue and help the com­mu­nity. The aim of

Due to COVID-19 pan­demic, the year 2020 has been filled with chal­lenges for ev­ery­one. Some have been af­fected more

Safa Coun­selling Cen­tre coun­sel­lors also help in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies to over­come ob­sta­cles, heal from emo­tional dis­tress and achieve per­sonal growth and sat­is­fac­tion in their lives

these work­shops is to not merely to min­imise the rate of di­vorce, but to build, and im­prove and main­tain healthy re­la­tion­ships within fam­i­lies by help­ing in­di­vid­u­als prior to mar­riage of the need for healthy con­flict man­age­ment and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion strate­gies. Safa Coun­selling Cen­tre coun­sel­lors also help in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies to over­come ob­sta­cles, heal from emo­tional dis­tress and achieve per­sonal growth and sat­is­fac­tion in their lives. It of­fer self-en­hanc­ing work­shops, such as: anger man­age­ment work­shops, stress re­lease work­shops and Safa also of­fers mar­riage coun­selling, fam­ily coun­selling, par­ent­ing, and ad­dic­tion coun­selling and stress and anger man­age­ment ser­vices.

Over the past years, we have grown in our reach out and have had many clients who come from var­i­ous parts of the coun­try in­clud­ing, Trin­co­ma­lee, Kandy and sub­urbs,

Galle and many other places for coun­selling ser­vices. Safa has a strong rep­u­ta­tion in be­ing pro­fes­sional in its ap­proach and main­tain­ing high stan­dards of con­fi­den­tial­ity and pri­vacy, an ex­tremely im­por­tant prac­tice in the field of coun­selling. The Cen­tre also has af­fil­i­a­tion with many Psy­chi­a­trists who are on re­fer­ral for clients who re­quire med­i­ca­tion to as­sist the psy­chother­apy used. The coun­sel­lors ap­pro­pri­ately re­fer them to a psy­chi­a­trist upon as­sess­ing the need for any drug ther­apy. Psy­chi­a­trists are med­i­cal doc­tors who spe­cialise in men­tal health and are qual­i­fied to as­sess both the men­tal health and phys­i­cal as­pects of psy­cho­log­i­cal prob­lems.

Coun­selling, also known as talk ther­apy, is a form of psy­chother­apy which is the gen­eral term used for spend­ing time with a trained ther­a­pist to di­ag­nose and treat men­tal, emo­tional and per­son­al­ity prob­lems. Ev­ery­body goes through dif­fer­ent strug­gles and chal­lenges some­times. Coun­selling aims to de­velop al­ter­na­tive think­ing, greater prob­lem solv­ing, adopt­ing a pos­i­tive mind­set pri­ori­tis­ing one’s well-be­ing and de­velop ac­cep­tance and healthy cop­ing skills. Just as an in­di­vid­ual would seek med­i­cal health for an ail­ment of the body, seek­ing out help for one’s mind and men­tal health should be a pri­or­ity. It must be en­cour­aged and not seen as a taboo for the well-be­ing of any so­ci­ety, es­pe­cially at times of such cri­sis.

Safa Coun­selling Cen­tre also pro­vides on­line coun­selling cur­rently to be of help for those from all parts of the coun­try.on­line ther­apy ser­vices pro­vide the much-needed re­lief and so­lu­tion for com­plex chal­lenges we face when needed. Sim­i­lar to in-per­son ther­apy, on­line ther­apy is con­ducted in the same man­ner; a sup­port­ive re­la­tion­ship that the clin­i­cian up­holds for the client, ad­dress­ing the in­creas­ing is­sues re­lated to work and life stress, anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion, re­la­tion­ship dif­fi­cul­ties, par­ent­ing, fam­ily dy­nam­ics, and be­yond.

To mark World Men­tal Health Day 2020, Safa Coun­selling Cen­tre planned to host an Art Ther­apy work­shop for the chil­dren in Sal­va­tion Army, De­hi­wala. How­ever, the cur­rent COVID-19 sit­u­a­tion made it nec­es­sary to post­pone the event for a later date. Pre­vi­ous years, Safa Coun­selling Cen­tre had a stall at Good Mar­ket to com­mem­o­rate the 10th of Oc­to­ber as the World Men­tal Health Day. The coun­selors and Psy­chi­a­trist Dr. M. Gane­san also pa­tron­ized the stall to be there to cre­ate aware­ness and talk to the pub­lic who vis­ited the stall about men­tal health and reach­ing out for pro­fes­sional help. Safa also re­leased a video show­ing the gen­eral false be­liefs peo­ple had about men­tal health and Dr. Gane­san ex­plained what it re­ally was and why we need to strive and break such taboos to raise aware­ness and up­lift the com­mu­nity.

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 ??  ?? One of the work­ships con­ducted
One of the work­ships con­ducted

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