Commemorating the life and work of Dr Chesmal Siriwardhana

Dr. Chesmal Siriwardhana was a leading academic in the field of global mental health, migration and ethics. Dr. Siriwardhana was unexpectedly killed in a traffic accident on 9th April 2017, but the impact of his substantial contribution to the field of global mental health and migration will be of value for years to come.

Dr. Siriwardhana’s work with conflict-displaced people focused on practical and significant ways to address mental health issues for those in need. Dr. Siriwardhana wanted his research to have a real impact in the world; he valued evidence generation and theory, but felt it was vital for research to create meaningful change for people in the world. His work on the COMGAP-S project exemplified this approach. The aim of this project is to understand the mental health needs of conflict-displaced populations in Northern Sri Lanka to address the treatment gap and increase the effectiveness of mental health services. The team leading this project works closely with the community and major stakeholders as Dr. Siriwardhana was committed to ensuring programme implementation was accessible, culturally appropriate and sustainable over the long-term.

Dr. Siriwardhana had an incredible generosity of spirit, endless energy and a heartfelt passion for his work. He was not only a gifted academic, but also a highly valued mentor and friend and will be deeply missed.

- Shannon Doherty, PI, COMGAP-S

 In the Mental Health Innovation Network's commemorative podcast, MHIN commemorate and honour Chesmal, who had recently joined the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine as an Associate Professor and was part of the Centre for Global Mental Health. The interview captures his contribution to the Centre's celebrations for World Health Day.

One of Chesmal's most recent projects, COMGAP-S, is featured as an innovation case study on MHIN. The project aims to integrate mental health into primary care for post-conflict populations in Northern Sri Lanka using mhGAP-IG 2.0. 

"What we’re trying to do is create awareness among all stakeholders…to say that this is needed…because after conflict people are affected, as well as to empower people to understand this is not something to be ashamed of."

- Dr Chesmal Siriwardhana