Our Work

Mental Health & Psychosocial Support

Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Humanitarian Settings

Survivors of conflict and disasters are at higher risk for psychological distress and mental health conditions due to continued and overwhelming chaos and uncertainty, as well as the enormity of their loss that often includes homes, community, loved ones and livelihoods. As one of the few international relief organizations to prioritize prevention and treatment of mental health and psychosocial needs in humanitarian crises, we have the capacity to respond to these immediate needs. As communities recover and development begins, we focus on the longer term, to help strengthen mental health care systems and shape national policies.

Mental illness accounts for 4 of the 10 leading causes of disability worldwide.
During emergencies, rates of those suffering with common mental disorders can double from 10% to 20%
The annual cost of mental illness globally is projected to rise to $6 trillion by 2030

We have achieved significant breakthroughs in the fight for comprehensive mental health care by:

  • Advocating for mental health care with donors, governments and policy makers, taking a lead in assessing needs and mapping services, coordinating activities of different actors and promoting best practices and guidelines.
  • Launching large scale initiatives to bring MHPSS care to displaced populations living in emergency conditions.
  • Training medical and non-medical professionals to strengthen national health systems – particularly to address refugee crises.
  • Implementing an approach centered on careful case management that identifies, supports and protects those who are vulnerable and promotes stability and recovery.
  • Working with traditional community-based support groups and key people who can o er basic psychosocial support within the community.
  • Linking existing community support groups with local doctors and nurses trained by International Medical Corps to strengthen and expand the continuum of care from the community level to other local, regional and national health facilities.

Areas of Focus

Overview

International Medical Corps plays a leading role in the advancement of mental health systems in humanitarian settings. We contribute to the development of global guidelines and national policies for improving mental health and well-being among a ected populations.

Key Stats

WHO estimates global cost of dementia in 2010 was $602 billion. US defense spending in 2014 was $600 billion.
Between 2011 and 2030 mental health conditions will account for the loss of $16.1 trillion in economic growth.
The cost of alcohol abuse and related disorders equals 1.3-3.3% of GDP in high and middle income countries. US public spending for primary and secondary education accounts for 3% of GDP.

Overview

International Medical Corps is one of the few global emergency response organizations with the capacity to address both the immediate psychosocial needs of communities struck by disaster and to assist those with preexisting mental health disorders at the community level.

Key Stats

Only 1 percent of the global health workforce is working in the field of mental health today
Four out of five people with mental health conditions do not receive care in low and middle income countries
Mental health is critically important to the overall health, economy and social development of whole communities and societies – not just individuals experiencing mental illness

Overview

International Medical Corps uses a comprehensive approach to adapt training materials to the local context, providing both foundational training and supervision, supporting institutional changes and capacity building while also evaluating results to inform policy, practice and scale-up.

 

Key Stats

Low-income countries have an average of only 1 psychiatrist per every two million people
Discrimination and stigma create barriers for people with mental illness to access health and social services
Globally, skilled human resources for mental health services are limited, inadequate and most centralized in major cities and national capitals

Overview

International Medical Corps projects for children and youth are designed to build key life skills for dealing with difficult situations and developing friendships, and they encourage youth to engage in communities.

Key Stats

During the first six years of life, when development for cognitive, social, emotional and physical attributes are most critical, positive interaction with caregivers is vital not only to children but also beneficial for maternal well-being
Across all countries, suicide is a major cause of mortality during adolescence for males and females
Adolescence is the time when many mental health issues emerge. Approximately half of lifetime mental disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety-related disorders, impulse-control disorders and substance-control disorders, begin by age 14.

Psychological Toll Of War And Uncertainty: A heavy weight on refugees in Greece

The children panic every time they hear an airplane or thunderclap. “They think they are going to be bombed,” says Hana, a mother of eight. “Two bombs fell over our house. My small daughter was hurt by shrapnel.” Like nearly five million others, Hana and her family lost everything to Syria’s brutal and unending civil war.

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