National Institute of Mental Health

Angoda, Sri Lanka

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Home About NIMH
About NIMH

Message from the Director

The National Institute of Mental Health was built during Victorian times in 1925 and was opened for patients on January 31, 1929.At present it is the largest tertiary care hospital in Sri Lanka caring for patients with mental illness. The former Mental Hospital was upgraded to a National Institute in 2008. The Half Way Home, Mulleriyawa (HWH) and the School of Nursing, Mulleriyawa are also under the administration of NIMH since 2008.

Amongst the many services offered, in addition to general adult psychiatry, the institute has different specialized units. They are psycho geriatric unit, general medical ward, perinatal psychiatry unit, learning disability unit, adolescent and young adult psychiatry unit and forensic psychiatry unit. It also has a psycho-social training centre to train all staff categories in the area of mental health. In addition a research centre is also attached to the hospital.

I am sure that the National Institute of Mental Health will grow stronger day by day to provide quality mental health care to meet the needs of  people with mental illness in Sri Lanka and provide quality mental health training and research in our part of Asia. I hope that you will find this website informative and meaningful.

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to this website.


Dr. Kapila Wickramanayake
Director, NIMH


NIMH – a historical perspective

IMG 9842The National Institute of Mental Health was initially established as an asylum to replace the Cinnamon Garden Asylum. It was known as the Angoda Asylum and the foundation was laid in 1917. Its construction dragged on for nearly eight years and was completed in January 1926. It offered 1,728 beds in 18 wards located in six, three storied blocks. Each ward was designed to hold 96 people.

It was fully occupied in 1927, just one year after opening. By 1928, it was faced with the problem of overcrowding and subsequently the death rate from tuberculosis and dysentery grew in proportion to the overcrowded conditions.

During this time it operated similar to a prison with high walls and wooden bars, which enclosed the corridors leading to the wards. The environment was very much polluted. Gardens were densely packed with patients, many of them shouting and fighting with each other. A majority of men were sleeping on the ground.

Patients were unoccupied throughout the day and each night, about 100 ‘noisy’ patients were rounded up and locked in cells in a place called the ‘noisy ward.’ The cells contained a hole for the patients to defecate and urinate through and there was a small window high up on one wall for ventilation. There was no observation window in the doors of the cells.
Today, NIMH has been transformed and continues to evolve into a high quality institute that puts patient care first. 

The Hospital

Spread over a spacious 15 hectares, the NIMH is located in the city of Angoda (15 km away from Colombo) and provides a serene environment for patients to recuperate away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Its buildings are designed to allow patients maximum freedom while ensuring their safety.

The general psychiatric wards are arranged in blocks of four with common courtyards allowing patients to mingle with each other and also allowing for activities such as volleyball or badminton to be played.

Each ward has its own rehabilitation room with facilities for leisure activities such as board games and newspaper stands.

Interconnecting corridors lead to the wards through gardens maintained by patients in their respective ward as part of their rehabilitation activities.


VSO Volunteers

VSO (Volunteer Services Overseas) is an international NGO (non-government organization) that provides volunteers in a number of countries around the world, but mainly in Africa and Asia. The volunteers are all qualified and experienced professionals in their area of work. The current volunteers are being funded through a European Union project that is supporting and developing rights based mental health services in Sri Lanka.



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