World Mental Health Day (10 October) is a day declared for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy. It was first celebrated in 1992 with the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organization with members and contacts in more than 150 countries.
Human Rights Office in Kandy working with different kinds of survivor groups for their legal and psychological needs, believe, that mental health is a human right. We celebrated it with the survivor families of both ethnic groups Sinhala and Tamil. Among the participants, families of the disappeared and of the prisoners and the survivors of Rape & Torture and other Human Rights violation and the members of the support group.
Importance of mental health and the significance of the day was explained by Fr. Nandana Manatunga the Director of HRO while the theme and the day's programme was explained by Sr. Mabel Rodrigo the Trauma Counselor of HRO.
The trauma that was experienced by the families of the victims with the 21/4 2019 bomb attack on churches and hotels and all those who viewed the scenes via Television were highlighted and the need to be in solidarity with them with ongoing trauma counseling was pointed out.
Drama Therapist Dr. Ravindra Ranasinghe and his Team conducted several exercises along with the participants while explaining how to cope up with stress and trauma, hence it was active participation and learning.
Body movements and yogic postures session kept their minds in a state quietness all through the sessions. It immensely helped the participants to search and observe objects that reflect their own personal stories as they mindfully walked around the nature and surroundings and later to share them in the group.
One of the best techniques of managing stress is laughing out aloud. Group performance of laughing out aloud integrated with movements, and sharing in small groups each person’s unique ways of creating happiness for oneself and managing stress helped them to learn innovative ways of daily living. At the closure of the session participants were given an exercise on progressive relaxation, an opportunity to expose their pains and tears within a religious ritual and release them to the nature.
On 2019 Metal health day, all the participants were able to take part in a living session of discovering their personal journey with their traumatic pain and ways of dealing with pain and tears.
Human Rights Market
The family members of the disappeared brought along with them their produce / harvest such as fruits, vegetables, flower plants, eatables etc. Behind each of the stalls, the photos of the disappeared were posted, while the consumers bought items the family members had the opportunity to speak about their disappeared, their loved ones and explain the reason for their campaign...TO KNOW THE TRUTH....
Soon after the Sunday service at Fatima Shrine, people walked into the marked as they were already prepared during the service. The disappearances day was explained in length during the introduction and the homily. Further Fatima Shrine at Padiwatte Kundasale, Kandy was significant in remembering the disappeared as thousands of youth were killed during the JVP insurrection in 1989-91 on the bridge of Tennakumbura- Kandy and thrown into the Maheweli river, right in front of the Fatima Shrine.