FEATURED STORY

Mental health team helps rescue Somali refugee

Halima saw traditional healers and religious leaders to break the dark cloud that had settled over her life. She felt sad and was having trouble sleeping. She lost interest in activities that she once enjoyed. She couldn’t shake the darkness and blamed herself.

“I am not much use either for myself or my children,” she told the mental health officer on her first visit to an International Medical Corps clinic at the Melkadida refugee camp in Ethiopia. “I‘ve asked God to take me from this world.”

A 30-year-old mother of three, Halima was forced to flee her native Somalia, a country where drought and violence has left nearly 4 million seriously short of food and 300,000 children under 5 years-old severely malnourished. She eventually landed in the Melkadida refugee camp in Ethiopia, which is home to more than 45,000 people. A single mother, she cared for her children on her own even as her condition gradually worsened.

But nothing she tried seemed to work and Halima slipped ever deeper into the inner darkness of her depression. It reached the point that she could no longer look after her children or go about her daily activities.

She was losing all hope that she would ever find a way out when an International Medical Corps mental health officer visited Halima at home and encouraged her to visit the clinic the organization ran in the camp.

The psychiatrist diagnosed Halima with moderate to severe depression and put her on a treatment plan that included medication and regular counseling services. The treatment resulted in significant improvement and two years later, Halima has regained control of her life. She is caring for her children, participating in religious and social events, and doing things she enjoys in her spare time, like watching movies.

**Names were changed to protect confidentiality.

Back story

Halima was sociable, participating in religious events, fully functional in areas of caring her children, doing house hold activities when she was in Somalia. She has lived in Melkadida refugee camp of Ethiopia for five years. During this time she has been physically, socially and emotionally healthy for the past two years.

Discharge

Once the symptoms of her depression passed and she once again became active and productive, the responsible International Medical Corps mental health professional recommended she stop the medication and, counseling service and resume her life as usual.

Outcome

When Halima was recommended to discontinue her treatment, the Mental Health officer expressed his pleasure at her response to the medication and counseling. “I am very pleased with her recovery. She will be an excellent example to show our program’s impact on the refugee community." Halima also thanked International Medical Corps for its help. “I am very gratified for the care that International Medical Corps MHPSS team gave me. Many thanks”