Mental disorders cause significant disability and interfere with a person’s tasks of daily living, livelihood activities, educational opportunities, physical health, and relationships to others, which also impacts social and economic development. In the context of humanitarian crises, mental health is critical to recovering from disasters and the ability to rebuild.
A key aspect of International Medical Corps’ mental health strategy is to train local health professionals to recognize and treat the signs of mental disorders as part of mainstream, community level primary health care and to work at the grassroots level to change attitudes toward those with mental health problems. Such integration has been a key aspect of International Medical Corps’ programming in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
In January 2008, International Medical Corps and the World Health Organization (WHO) partnered to strengthen their efforts to address the health needs of vulnerable populations in crises and post conflict settings. In the same year, the WHO mental health Gap Action Program (mhGAP) was launched with the objective of scaling up care for mental, neurological and substance use disorders. International Medical Corps helped the WHO develop the mhGAP Intervention Guide (mhGAP-IG), published in 2010, as a practical manual for non-specialist health care providers and applied it in four countries in the MENA region, including Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq.
International Medical Corps trains primary health care providers (doctors, nurses and social workers) in the MENA region in the identification, management and referral of people with mental health problems. Given the need for developing interactive and stimulating training aids, International Medical Corps and WHO developed mhGAP training videos that serve as a core component of mental health e-learning curriculum general practitioners and mid-level professionals. International Medical Corps plans to use the videos, which have been piloted in both Lebanon and Jordan, in its health training programs throughout the MENA region.