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Mental Health Provider Assists in Stricken Nation

Mental Health Provider to Assist in Stricken Nation

One of New Zealand’s largest mental health providers is sending an advance party to Sri Lanka to help develop counseling and psychiatric support services for tsunami survivors.

Richmond Fellowship’s Wellington area manager, Maurice Dodson, a former Chief of General Staff for the New Zealand Army, will travel to Sri Lanka with senior psychologist Mark Rosario to make an on-the-ground assessment of mental health services.

The 10-day fact-finding mission is expected to lead to the deployment of a specialist support team for tsunami survivors and the families of victims.

Richmond Fellowship New Zealand hopes to work with NZAID to develop an on-going international support project for its sister organisation, Richmond Fellowship Lanka, including training for counselors dealing with post traumatic stress disorder and displaced young people, and other priorities yet to be identified.

Richmond’s chief executive, Dr Gerry Walmisley, says the immediate aim is to complete a detailed evaluation of the needs and priorities in Lanka, and to advise as to how best Richmond Fellowship New Zealand can assist.

“We understand that there is an urgent need for training for local Richmond Fellowship staff and possibly other mental health professionals, however it’s difficult to gain an accurate picture of exactly what the needs are or how we might respond.

“NZAID may support future projects but we need an assessment of the situation on the ground. There is an increasing awareness of the psychological impact of this tragedy in South East Asia, and it’s likely that assistance will be needed for years to come.”

Richmond Fellowship New Zealand

Richmond Fellowship is a major provider of community health and support services throughout New Zealand. The Fellowship has developed specialist services for a range of purchasers including the Ministry of Health, Crown Public Health, Child Youth and Family Service and District Health Boards. Services include support programmes for people with mental, psychiatric or psychological illness, respite and emergency support, consumer based drop-in services, specialist youth services and dual diagnosis services (including intellectual disability/mental illness).

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