Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)
KEY ROLE PLAYED BY SAFA CENTRE
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.