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Urgent need for Mental Health awareness in Sri Lanka

5 March 2021 06:43 am - 3     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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"At present Sri Lanka as a society is going through great mental pressure. This could be due to a compilation of factors considering the challenges people experience as a third world country and the effects the current pandemic has on the economy​"

The recent events currently circulating on all media channels have created an uproar and unrest amongst citizens. There are three incidents reported within the past week that grabbed public attention; A body of a dead woman found in a suitcase in Dam Street, Colombo on March 1, a nine-year-old girl beaten to death by her mother and another woman during an alleged ‘exorcism’ believed to drive away the “evil spirits that possessed her” in Delgoda and a 24-year-old mother beating her infant with a cane in Jaffna.

At present Sri Lanka as a society is going through great mental pressure. This could be due to a compilation of factors considering the challenges people experience as a third world country and the effects the current pandemic has on the economy. The occurrence of these events indicates that the psycho-social support in Sri Lanka is not of standard. Mental health in Sri Lanka is not prioritized even at times like this where it is most necessary.  “The infant’s mother claimed that she was ill-treated by her husband and that resulted in her return to Sri Lanka and the child was beaten by her following a heated argument with her husband who is still in Kuwait”. The mother assaulting her infant out of desperation is an example of people resorting to disturbing behaviour due to financial and other day to day pressures. The Sub-Inspector of Police suspected to be the killer of the woman whose headless body was found stuffed in a travelling bag, committing suicide is another example of how strained people are due to what has been occurring. 

It is essential to create channels for people to deal with the mental strain they are experiencing. It is about time that authorities take an initiative to ensure all citizens know the importance of maintaining their mental wellbeing and that all citizens have access to mental health support. Even though our laws and systems are in place for child protection and rights, there is an immense gap in the implementation of such a system. These cases are only a few that have surfaced to public knowledge, amongst many others that go unreported which grassroot level officers are aware of. 

Yes, it is a fact that the media reporting these cases have led to authorities paying more attention and conducting investigations to hold the perpetrators involved accountable due to pressure asserted by the public upon viewership. It is highly commendable that these media outlets have taken the initiative to bring such events to light. That being said the media have to figure out the best way to publish traumatic incidents as such without graphic content because it also becomes detrimental to the legal proceedings and the identity and the privacy of the victim and perpetrator. 

With all due respect, I believe the media should be more responsible and understand that publishing negative content of violence and abuse has consequences on the mental state of society. People who are aware of child psychology and psychology in general, will know not to watch these in the presence of children and people who could get easily triggered or affected by sensitive content. But what about the rest of us who are not informed about the importance of the need to filter what we view and are exposed to every day? It is vital to note that the video of the infant getting beaten up was not labelled as sensitive content on social media platforms such as Instagram. Events published on mainstream television media are easily accessible to anyone even children. 

 

"At present Sri Lanka as a society is going through great mental pressure. This could be due to a compilation of factors considering the challenges people experience as a third world country and the effects the current pandemic has on the economy​"


Viewers, children and adults alike are prone to subconsciously experiencing severe signs of PSTD upon seeing upsetting content. Repetitive publishing of such content also normalizes the public to situations that are not only disturbing but considered criminal behaviour.

There are countless numbers of content on child protection and safety, good parenting, body protection and the responsibilities of the state towards its children. These can be published on media which would bring in a more positive effect on people in turn encouraging them to be more aware of children and understanding that it’s not just one situation but many that go unreported daily. This would ensure that the society would take action consistently and regularly and not only paid attention to when it is publicized by the media.
We hope that the State and the media of Sri Lanka will consider these facts into consideration and work towards a better and safer country for our children!
The author is a Legal Researcher - Child Protection Force and can be reached on: 


www.childprotectionforce.org | www.facebook.com/childprotectionforce/

  Comments - 3

  • Kapila Madigasekera Friday, 05 March 2021 11:59 AM

    Mental health should be given to Rajapaksa Clan, Speaker and there cronies in the parliament. They all act like there is no tomorrow. They sell all the S.L. assets to China, India and other countries Please someone should start a movement to get these idiots heads examined.

    Jinadasa Palagedara Friday, 05 March 2021 04:58 PM

    I think once we correct the parliament, then everything will be OK!

    Kumar Friday, 05 March 2021 10:22 PM

    Mental health and the headless body Colombo has nothing in common. Lust and promiscuity is the cause of that avoidable tragedy. So don't paint the mother using a cane on a baby and disgusting of behavior of individuals with same the brush.


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