Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
History of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry services at Lady Ridgeway Hospital goes way back to 1980’s. Initially there were only two afternoon clinics conducted by Dr. Anula Nikapotha, consultant Psychiatrist from the University of Colombo. Over the past four decades Child and Adolescent psychiatry services grew immensely with the hard work of many Child and Adolescent psychiatrists who advocated and took the leadership in the process. Later consultant psychiatrists, who are interested in child and adolescent psychiatry from mental hospital Angoda took up providing services at outpatient clinic at LRH. Both the Department of Health and the University psychiatrists contributed and developed the child and adolescent psychiatry services at Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children. Then DGHS Dr. Beligaswatte opened a cadre position for a child psychiatrist at LRH in 2001. Dr. Mrs Buddhi Karunathilake consultant Psychiatrist was appointed as the first child psychiatrist to LRH in 2005.
In 2014, Dr. Swarna Wijethunga, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist pioneered in developing the first multidisciplinary inpatient unit at LRH. The infrastructure was developed with the courtesy of CSR project by Sri Lankan Cares of Sri Lankan Airlines. Ward number 23 was assigned as the child mental health unit with inpatient facility, Day hospital and the Consultation and Liaison unit. This is the only inpatient facility available for children with mental health facilities in Sri Lanka.
Our unit provides services for children and adolescents with emotional and behavioural problems and developmental disorders (including autism spectrum disorder and learning difficulties). We take a holistic, family focused approach in managing children and adolescents with mental health difficulties, with input from our multidisciplinary team in a naturalistic environment.
We provide pharmacological and non-pharmacological management including psychological therapies, parenting skills and behavioural interventions as appropriate. We collaborate actively with multiple stakeholders including education providers, social services and child protection services as needed. We offer long-term follow up for children and provide support for parents and siblings as well.
It is of paramount importance that these children are recognized early and referred to our services without delay, especially for conditions like Autism, where the prognosis depends on early interventions.
Children are the future of our country. Studies have shown that the prevalence of clinically relevant child and adolescent mental health problems are high in Sri Lanka. Thus we need to support the recovery and integration of our children with mental health problems so that they can live happy and productive lives.
The multi disciplinary team consists of Consultant Child and Adolescent psychiatrists, medical officers, nursing officers, psychiatric social workers, speech and language therapists and occupational therapists. Our staff is committed to continuously update themselves regarding new developments in the field of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry in order to provide optimal care for our patient and their families.
Dr. Swarna Wijetunge
Consultant Child Psychiatrist
Dr. Apeksha Hewageegana
Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist
Dr. Dulangi Dahanayaka
Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist
|Name of Consultant||Speciality||Ward||Clinic Room||Day of the week|
|Dr. Swarna Wijethunga||Consultant Child Psychiatrist||Ward 23||22||Tuesday Wednesday Friday
|Dr. Apeksha Hewageegana||Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist||Ward 23||22||Monday Friday
|Dr. Dulangi Dahanayake||Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist||Ward 19 B||22||Tuesday
|Ward 19 B||Wednesday Friday
University Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Unit, Ward 19 B – It comprises of an in-patient ward, a day unit, out-patient clinics, and a consultation-liaison unit.
- Clinic: Wednesday 1.00 PM
The unit offers in-patient care and has six out- patient clinics per week, which register an average of 2000 new patients enrolled per year. In addition, it provides liaison psychiatric services for all other units of this hospital.
The services cater for the needs of many children with emotional and behavioural problems and developmental disorders. These include children with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, children with scholastic difficulties such as dyslexia, learning disability and children with mood disorders and anxiety disorders etc. The children with high risk and child abuse are being given priority in giving appointments.
The nursing officer triages the referrals and prioritises with the supervision of Senior registrar or Consultant.
It gets referrals from many agencies such as judiciary, medical and education systems. With prior appointments the children are being assessed at the clinics with information provided by other sources such as teacher, clinicians etc. Children under the age of 14 years, referred to Lady Ridgeway Hospital, room number 22 and adolescents are being referred to the adolescent clinic, room number 10 at NHSL Colombo on Saturday mornings.
In addition to enhancing the knowledge of the parents, Child and Adolescent psychiatry services conduct three parent training programs monthly. Autism parent training on every second Tuesday, parenting on every first Friday and parent training on dyslexia on every second Wednesday are conducted at the hospital auditorium.
We have special clinics for children with autism spectrum disorder (including a play therapy group) and learning disabilities, as well as a school health clinic based in the community at Narahenpita.
We get referrals from the OPD, Consultant Psychiatrists from other hospitals, other wards at Lady Ridgeway Hospital and the judiciary. New patients are triaged, and appointments given as required.
Further we manage patients with legal problems along with the National child protection authority, social service department and probationary and child care officers and conduct case conferences with a view to develop an individualised service plan. Also provides court reports and medico legal assessments when needed.
We are actively involved in teaching and training medical undergraduates and postgraduate trainees in psychiatry. Our unit continues to contribute to research related to child mental health in Sri Lanka. In addition, we are involved in capacity building among all categories of mental health professionals, Medical Officers and primary care workers in Sri Lanka. We work with other governmental and non-governmental institutions involved in caring for children and adolescents.
Lady Ridgeway Hospital in collaboration with the Sri Lanka college of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists conduct several awareness programs for the public and allied health staff.