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Airtel and NIMH launch Sri Lanka’s first mental health chatline

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Sri Lanka now has its own text-based helpline for those facing emotional and mental distress. Airtel Lanka together, with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), launched the text-based platform 1926, a dedicated helpline to encourage an open culture around mental health.

The service is free for Airtel customers and is also accessible for users of other mobile networks. In times of need, a user only has to send a simple text message to 1926, and this will be responded immediately by a mental health specialist from NIMH.

The chat line went live on October 10 in commemoration of World Mental Health Day 2020, connecting users to professional counsellors who are available in English, Sinhala, and Tamil languages. The 1926 text-based helpline by Airtel hopes to encourage more young people to reach out to professionals, particularly when they are experiencing times of crisis and may require guidance in mitigating their mental health concerns in a safe and anonymous environment.

Connecting to the launch over Airtel Blue Jeans, CEO and Managing Director, Ashish Chandra said, “Digital technologies are transforming learning, socializing and communication among youth. Our brand is heavily engaged with young Sri Lankans and we are very much aware that they prefer to use digital platforms to engage and find solutions. At Airtel, we are always looking at ways to create meaningful connections for our customers by blending technology with human needs and this is one such initiative.”

Dr. Pushpa Ranasinghe, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist, NIMH said, “With the introduction of the 1926 voice-based hotline in 2018, there has been a gradual increase in the number of people, proactively seeking help to cope with anxiety, depression, stress, and other mental health concerns and directing them to the closest help center.”

She further added, “Mobile phones and text messaging, in particular, have rapidly become the preferred communication tool among the youth, creating a culture connected to its phones. As healthcare professionals, our dependency on technology is now important than ever before. And as a result of its advancements, we can find improved ways of being accessible to those who need help. We are thankful to Airtel for helping us evolve 1926 from a voice to a text-based helpline.”

The event concluded with a panel discussion on addressing mental health for all through greater investments and access.

The session moderated by mental health advocate Shanuki De Alwis featured Dr. Pushpa Ranasinghe, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist, National Institute of Mental Health, Nivendra Uduman, Psychologist and Kanishka Ranaweera, Head of HR, Airtel Lanka.

The NIMH established the ‘1926’ phone hotline in 2018 as part of a concerted effort to address legitimate concerns around the growing public health issues, to provide those in mental or emotional distress to seek assistance.



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BOI launches long term residence visa programme for investors

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Investment Promotion Minister Dhammika Perera and BOI Director General Renuka M Weerakone with Hajar Alafifi Laadel, Chairperson and Managing Director, Unilever, Sri Lanka ltd

The Board of Investment (BOI) recently launched the five-year residence visa program dedicated to investors, stakeholders and BOI enterprises.Issuing long-term visas for investors has been the practice as per the international standards. On par with matching the international benchmark in respect of ease of doing business, the BOI has decided to launch this program to attract more investors to the country.

The long-term visa program, a long-felt need, primarily aims to facilitate the investors who wish to embark on a journey with the BOI.The BOI annually issues 7500-8000 visa recommendations for investors, employees and dependents.The BOI has granted visas for foreign nationals from 109 countries such as India, the United Kingdom, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Pakistan which represent the most applicants based on last year’s statistics.

Addressing the gathering, Investment Promotion Minister Dhammika Perera said “The happiness on the faces of those investors present at the occasion, implies that the newly launched visa residence scheme is a success,”

“Before the implementation of this program, they had to go through a long documentation process every year to get these visas,” he pointed out.

“Having understood the prime need to provide a seamless and convenient service for investors, we have launched the new program albeit I have not officially assumed duties as the Investment Promotion Minister,” Perera highlighted.

BOI Director General Renuka M Weerakone stated “It is certainly a pleasure to see all our long-standing investors on this special day of launching the long-term residence visa program for investors.

“You all have been the contributors towards 65% of export earnings to Sri Lanka and have stood by us even in times of difficult periods that our country faced, which we wish to acknowledge with great gratitude,” she underscored.

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Dialog Enterprise introduces Dialog SmartLife App for Three Sinha roller doors

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Manjula Ariyakumara, Managing Director of Three Sinha Group of Companies and Navin Pieris, Group Chief Officer - Dialog Enterprise of Dialog Axiata PLC

The Three Sinha Group, a leading roller door company in Sri Lanka, has teamed up with Dialog Enterprise, the corporate ICT solutions arm of Dialog Axiata PLC, to launch a smart roller door controlled via the Dialog SmartLife App. This app enables users to control and access roller door services conveniently from their smartphones. Customers who use Three Sinha roller doors simply need to download the Dialog SmartLife App on Apple App Store and Google Play Store on their smartphone to operate the roller doors from anywhere.

“This is another important step in that process, and we are pleased to partner Dialog Enterprise to provide customers with a future-fit solution. I invite our customers to become a part of this experience”, said Manjula Ariyakumara, the Managing Director of Three Sinha Group of Companies. “As expounded by our brand ethos ‘The Future.Today’, Dialog is continuously seeking avenues of incorporating communication technology into many service areas and product offerings. In line with this vision, we are delighted to partner Three Sinha, a leading Roller Door company in Sri Lanka”, stated Navin Pieris, Group Chief Officer – Dialog Enterprise of Dialog Axiata PLC

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People’s Bank commemorates its 61st anniversary

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People’s Bank, held a modest ceremony to on 1st July to commemorate their 61st anniversary at the bank’s Head Office in Colombo 02. Chairman of the People’s Bank Sujeewa Rajapakse and CEO/General Manager Ranjith Kodituwakku addressed the staff at this event.

In addition, Religious programs were organized by the Buddhist Association, Hindu Association, Muslim Majlis and the Christians Guild of the People’s Bank to invoke blessings on the country, the people, the customers and the pioneering leaders who have contributed to establish the People’s Bank.

Accordingly, a Pirith chanting was held at the Head Office which was followed by an alms giving at Sambodhi Viharaya in Fort with the patronage of Chief Incumbent Most Ven. Professor Iththademaliye Indhasara Thero. Hindu pooja was conducted by Sri Nivasa Kurukkal, Bambalapitiya, Islamic Service conducted by Deshabandu Al Haj Faisal Hassan mowlavi at Dawatagaha Jumma mosque in Colombo and the holy mass was conducted by Rev. Father Anton Rohitha at St. Philip Mary’s church in Pettah.People’s Bank Corporate and Executive Management, bank staffs and retired employees were also present at the occasion.

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