Florence Ingall, Molly Carlyle and Luyao Kong in Sri Lanka.

University of Exeter Psychology Graduates Venture Overseas For Much Desired Experience

Around 20,000 Psychology Graduates will apply for a Clinical Psychology Doctorate in 2015. There are only 550 spaces. This means under 4% of applicants will be successful and, in many cases, this will not be the first year that they have applied.

University of Exeter students Florence Ingall, Molly Carlyle and Luyao Kong know first-hand how difficult gaining a place on the Clinical Psychology doctorate course can be. With such fierce competition in Clinical Psychology, work experience carries as much weight as academic achievement, if not more.

The problem is that finding hands-on Psychology work experience is not always easy, so these students decided to venture further afield to gain the crucial experience they needed, travelling to the Island of Sri Lanka to participate in a Mental Health Placement. For 5 weeks this summer these young women shared their skills at Psychiatric Hospitals and ran therapeutic activity sessions at centres for individuals with various specific needs. This placement was organised by SLV, a volunteer organisation founded in 2010 by Psychology Graduates in a similar position to Florence, Molly and Luyao. 

Mental Health Care in Sri Lanka is in its infancy. The stigma for those with Mental Health issues is still widespread, and with just one Psychiatrist for every 500,000 people, there is still a long way to go.  In the past 5 years, over 1000 Psychology students have joined SLV to dedicate their time to supporting people with mental health issues in Sri Lanka to reduce the care deficit by boosting the existing resources in place, and offering stimulating therapeutic activity sessions for service users during all stages of their recovery.

The SLV Mental Health Placement is partnered with the King’s College London Resource Centre for Trauma, Displacement and Mental Health. Florence, Molly and Luyao were 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 thoroughly under-resourced facilities and challenging environments.

Florence Ingall - "From the moment i landed i felt incredibly welcome by the great sense of community of all the SLV staff and the incredibly kind home-stay family, who do everything they can to make you feel at home! The projects are something you will never forget and the opportunities you are given are some that you would never be able to experience in the UK today. My experience with SLV opened my eyes to so many different aspects of working with children, youth and adults and especially in countries where they are less fortunate than us. You also learn all about the Sri Lankan culture and you will witness how incredibly kind the Sri Lankan people are. I extremely recommend the trip to anyone as the things you learn and experiences you have will most definitely remain with you for the rest of your life."

Molly Carlyle -“The placement really offered me an insight into an alternative cultural perspective on mental health, and not from reading textbooks but from actual first-hand experience with the people of Sri Lanka. What at first seemed new and scary turned out to the one of the most profound, exciting and enriching 6 weeks of my life.”

Luyao Kong - “My time in Sri Lanka is worthy as I have learned so much and made many friends. It is exciting that when you go to another country and embrace their culture and have a total different life compared to UK. From those programmes, I have gained some deeper understandings about special needs by contacting patients directly and I also started to think about the importance of services and support for mental health patients in developing countries."

Find out more - www.facebook.com/slvolunteersorganisation.

Date: 7 September 2015

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