samutthana began its journey in 2006 with funding and support from ‘UK – Sri Lanka Trauma Group (UKSLTG)’, which has been in existence since the year 1996. UKSLTG was initiated by a group of Sri Lankan Expatriates and British mental health professionals, as response to mental health requirements and consequences of the civil conflict, at the time of a prevailing crisis in Sri Lanka. The objectives of UKSLTG were built around responding to the strife and trauma, which created the necessity for upgrading of community-based services to improve the mental health of the population.
samutthana defined in Sanskrit as ‘rejuvenation’ commenced its services just over a year after the fatal night of the Tsunami in 2004. Besides the fact that Sri Lanka lacked the resources and capacity to cope with the aftermath of the devastation, there was an undeniable need for the relief of persons suffering from the psychological impact of trauma.
The World Health Organization, through a closer look at the- aftereffects of the Tsunami, established that people affected, suffered from short-lasting mild psychological distress to mild distress that with time could become chronic. The main intervention by Samutthāna was to raise awareness about the psychological impact of trauma and to develop the skills of frontline workers and professionals to deal with these negative mental health concerns.
samutthana adopted a broader focus than concentrating on the psychological impact of trauma alone to include mental health skills in general. It developed a pragmatic three-level model to structure training and skills development to include the needs of volunteers with minimal knowledge and skills, to highly trained professionals for their continuous professional development.