NJAMHAA and NJMHI Aim to Help People of Sri Lanka in Wake of Tragedy

The New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies (NJAMHAA) and its subsidiary, the New Jersey Mental Health Institute (NJMHI), are deeply saddened by the devastating loss of life and violence in Sri Lanka that occurred on Easter morning. This tragedy personally affects NJAMHAA and NJMHI, as they have been supporting Sri Lanka through its Sri Lanka Mental Health Relief Project that was launched soon after the December 2004 tsunami and has continued through a recent project, Program for Community Leaders to Enhance their Capacity as Facilitators on Basic Mental Health Needs/Requirements.

"We send special heartfelt sympathy and prayers to the people of Sri Lanka and foreigners who lost family members and friends in this horrific event," said Debra L. Wentz, PhD, President and CEO of NJAMHAA and Executive Director of NJMHI. "We are especially grief stricken over the tragic loss of Sister Janet Nethisinghe's entire immediate family. A social worker who has devoted her entire life to helping others heal, Sister Janet will now need to deal with this unimaginable trauma."

Sister Janet is President of the Sri Lanka EMDR [Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing] Association. She worked with a group of professionals in the field assembled by the Sri Lanka Center for Development Facilitation (SLCDF), the nongovernmental organization that NJMHI is funding, and took on a leadership role in writing the mental health training curriculum and planning the training events for the Program for Community Leaders. She also conducted some of the trainings in the first two phases of this project. Two of the modules were completed over the past several months and the third one that was planned for late April will be rescheduled.

"As this new tragedy adds to the collective trauma that the Sri Lankan population has experienced through civil war, the 2004 devastating tsunami and terrorism, our project is more important than ever as it addresses the emotional, mental health and addiction needs of a population that has few community resources. Our project has been training community leaders in rural areas to address these needs and to refer to a psychiatrist when necessary," Dr. Wentz said, noting that Sri Lanka has only one psychiatrist for every 19,000 individuals.

Donations Accepted
Tax-deductible donations to NJMHI are being accepted and would be greatly appreciated. NJMHI will ensure that 100% of donations will go to the SLCDF to enhance the Program for Community Leaders to Enhance their Capacity as Facilitators on Basic Mental Health Needs/Requirements and assist Sister Janet in her own trauma recovery and her work.

Donations can be sent to NJMHI, 3635 Quakerbridge Road, Suite 35, Mercerville, NJ 08619.


The New Jersey Mental Health Institute, Inc. (NJMHI), an outgrowth of NJAMHAA, is a private nonprofit charitable organization that promotes quality mental health services through policy development initiatives, training, technical assistance, research, data collection, best practice development, and anti-stigma and anti-discrimination campaigns.

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