Last month International Medical Corps recognized World Mental Health Day (WMHD) in our programs across the world, hosting community events aimed at educating, increasing awareness and debunking myths surrounding mental health.
This year’s theme was “Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World,” in recognition of the ever-increasing number of young people exposed to conflict, disease and disaster. Several of our events focused on helping young people overcome distress and build mental resilience, with the goal of preparing them to successfully negotiate the challenges that they may encounter in later life.
Here’s a quick summary of some of the activities we hosted worldwide.
In South Sudan, International Medical Corps remains an active, leading partner in the implementation of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services (MHPSS). These are integrated with general health services to help to reduce stigma around mental health disorders and associated problems, and increase the likelihood of referrals being made to mental health specialists.
This year’s WMHD celebration was marked by different activities in the communities in Malakal and Juba, helping to raise awareness and knowledge. The celebrations aimed to provide the communities with information about how they can best support young people who are threatened by issues such as HIV, suicide, bullying, harmful use of alcohol and drugs, and mental illness. Our staff used different activities—including radio shows, traditional dances, drama and sports—to help people better understand the issues facing young people.
We also brought young people together through football and volleyball tournaments, helping to build friendship through sports and teaching them how to find solutions together. Other events brought together stakeholders—including religious leaders and health and protection professionals—to provide information to the 11,000 people reached through the programs.
Gambella Refugee Camp is home to people from Somalia who have fled conflict, violence and severe drought conditions. International Medical Corps is working there to integrate mental health services into the primary healthcare provided in refugee camps.
At Gambella refugee camp, we conducted a week long mental health advocacy and awareness campaign to promote mental health and share key messages with various audiences such as school students and various members of the community.
In Lebanon, International Medical Corps supports refugees dealing with the stress and mental health issues that are often brought about by war and displacement. We also help the Lebanese host community deal with the strains that this crisis has placed on the local community.
Our MHPSS team conducted activities in three areas of Lebanon, holding activities and celebrations for youth and caregivers that enabled participants to reflect on their emotions and thoughts. These discussions and role-playing activities focused on what it means to become a teenager, and also were used to create a positive communication channel between caregivers and teenagers.
Today, Cameroon hosts some 350,000 refugees from the neighboring countries of Nigeria and the Central African Republic, in addition to nearly 200,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs). As Cameroon struggles to meet the needs of these resource-poor populations, International Medical Corps is on the ground providing many services, including mental health and psychosocial support.
Our team in Minawao organized several activities, discussing with young people different aspects of their lives and focusing on fundamental issues affecting them as individuals and refugees.
The Central African Republic (CAR), one of the poorest countries in the world, has been plagued by almost constant unrest. For many of its nearly 5 million inhabitants, violence is an everyday threat. International Medical Corps is there, providing mental health and psychosocial support services to people in need.
On World Mental Health Day, our team in Bambari celebrated this year’s global theme by focusing its activities on how best to serve youth and their unique mental health needs. Stakeholders such as religious leaders, teachers and health professionals gave speeches and held information sessions to provide information to attendees.
Syrian families have been exposed to extreme levels of violence as a result of the war and have often lost loved ones, livelihoods and homes. We integrate mental health and psychosocial support services into primary healthcare services so that people also have the emotional and psychological care they need.
Our teams hosted World Mental Health Day celebrations that included recreational activities for youth and information on how to cope with stress and mental health distress. Additional activities used art and drama to share positive messages about mental health and how participants can better support each other.
MHPSS Is a Primary Focus of International Medical Corps
As a global leader in integrating mental healthcare within humanitarian settings, we were delighted with the opportunity to focus on mental health within communities we serve around the world. But we know much remains to be done—that’s why we’re working every day to increase and provide access to those in need.
Learn more about International Medical Corps’ mental health and psychosocial support programs, and how we include them in even the most challenging of environments.