Published: 29 October 2015

Psychology students aid mental health efforts in Sri Lanka

Mathew Kirtley in Sri Lanka

Two University of Liverpool Psychology students have been commended for their work in mental health care in Sri Lanka following successful placements on the island.

Mathew Kirtley and Sarah Keegan, who are both studying for a BSC in Psychology, travelled to Sri Lanka to volunteer for five weeks over the summer with SLV – a volunteer organisation founded in 2010 by psychology graduates to run activity-based projects in psychiatric hospitals, rehabilitation centres and centres for people with special needs.

The organisation has commended Mathew and Sarah for joining more than 1000 psychology students over the last five years to have dedicated their time to supporting people with specific needs and mental health issues in Sri Lanka.

Sarah Keegan 2 - Sri Lanka

Image left shows Sarah Keegan in Sri Lanka.

The students shared their skills at psychiatric hospitals and ran sessions at dedicated special needs centres offering stimulating therapeutic activities for service users living with a variety of mental health issues and disabilities.

Mental Health Care in the South Asian country is still in its infancy with just one psychiatrist for every 500,000 people.

Students on placements are trained and supported by Sri Lankan mental health professionals to help equip them with the skills to work sensitively within the Sri Lankan culture, and in under-resourced and challenging environments.

Matthew Kirtley in Sri Lanka

Image left shows Mathew Kirtley in Sri Lanka.

Commenting on the experience, Sarah Keegan said: “Going to Sri Lanka was definitely the best thing I’ve done. I lived like a local and it gave me such an amazing experience working with special needs children. I can’t wait to go back again and relive an incredible experience.”

Mathew Kirtley added: “The placement was brilliant as the projects were fantastic and challenging. It was also incredible to explore the different parts of Sri Lanka at the weekends.”

SLV are currently recruiting new team members for mental health, teaching and special needs placements in 2016. For further information or to apply, please visit or

5.00 avg. rating (94% score) - 2 votes

One thought on “Psychology students aid mental health efforts in Sri Lanka

  1. Flo

    Unfortunately, having also done the placement myself for 6 weeks this September (I have just returned), my view of the experience is slightly different from what is portrayed here. Although i enjoyed myself, it was not at all what I had expected. If anyone is thinking of doing this placement and would like to discuss my view and why I have it, please feel free to reply on here or contact me.

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