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Mental Health 

The psychological impact of a humanitarian emergency can be severe, and for people who have lived through these crises, their survival can depend on more than just ensuring physical wellbeing. 
 
Worldwide, around one in four people will suffer from a mental health problem during their lifetime, yet around 60 percent will not seek help.  
 
These figures increase dramatically when factors such as violence, persecution, the need to flee, disasters or a lack of access to healthcare are involved. 
 
For this reason, in 1998 MSF formally recognised the need to provide mental health and psychosocial care as part of our emergency work.  
 
Many patients seen by MSF will have been separated from their families or witnessed the deaths of loved ones. Others may have been forced to flee their homes, searching for shelter, supplies and safety. These events can immobilise people with depression and anxiety at just the time when they need to take action for themselves and their families. 
 
MSF professionals are there to listen and support so that traumatic experiences do not come to define our patients' lives. 
 
In 2017, MSF provided 306,300 individual mental health consultations, and 49,800 group mental health sessions. We also provide support to help our staff deal with the challenging experiences that they might have had during the course of their work, including upon their return home.  
 

04/05/2021

Burkina Faso: providing healthcare in a region ravaged by violence

Burkina Faso’s North region hosts more than 100,000 internally displaced people who fled recurring violence in this part of the country. Since January 2021, MSF’s mobile teams have been offering healthcare support to people in the villages of Sirfou, Todiame, Rounga and Ouindigui, where thousands of these displaced persons have settled, but where access to healthcare and other basic services is severely limited.

People displaced by violent attacks in Palma who fled into Pemba housed at the stadium
07/04/2021

Mozambique: “People ran into the bush to save their lives”

Amparo Vilasmil is MSF mental health activity manager in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique. She is part of a team operating in Montepuez, the second most populous city in the province and one of the destinations for people fleeing recent attacks in the coastal town of Palma.

03/03/2021

Mozambique: Giving people an outlet to express their pain

 In northern Mozambique, the traumas that internally displaced people (IDPs) have lived through are taking their toll - MSF mental health workers are helping by giving them an outlet to express their pain. 

22/01/2021

Bangladesh: Rohingya communities at breaking point

 Rohingya refugees are being pushed into increasingly desperate situations, where they have inadequate formal channels to meet their basic needs.

19/12/2020

Ethiopia: “They saw soldiers and civilians coming in, wounded or dead”

Psychological support for MSF staff on the border with Tigray, Ethiopia 

Embedded thumbnail for A mental health crisis is brewing in Dadaab, Kenya
27/10/2020

A mental health crisis is brewing in Dadaab, Kenya

A mental health crisis is growing in the Dadaab refugee complex in Kenya, where hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees have been stuck for decades. This stems from years of desperation, where refugees have seen little progress in finding solutions to their plight. Now COVID-19 is making this that much harder as resettlement and voluntary repatriations have completely stopped.
Displaced families live in makeshift shelters in Fada,
22/10/2020

Burkina Faso: The invisible scars of violence

The conflict in Burkina Faso has created a huge humanitarian crisis. Violence is having a major impact on the mental health of the population, with disorders such as anxiety and sadness, despair, sleep disorders, fatigue, irritability or anger and/or pain, which need to be properly managed.

A mental health consultation in Dadaab © Robin Hammond/Panos Pictures
08/10/2020

Desperation builds in Dadaab, as promises of durable solutions falter in the face of COVID-19

MSF is witnessing a dramatic deterioration in the mental health of camp residents in Dagahaley, the number of attempted suicides is rising and psychosocial consultations have jumped by more than 50 per cent from last year.

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Ethiopia: Tigray Crisis

People have been left without healthcare and tens of thousands have been displaced across Ethiopia and Sudan, following fighting that broke out in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia, in November 2020.

MSF teams are working on both sides of the border, providing assistance to people in refugees camps in Sudan, and to the displaced and host communities within Tigray in Ethiopia.

 Find out more  

Mental Health 

The psychological impact of a humanitarian emergency can be severe, and for people who have lived through these crises, their survival can depend on more than just ensuring physical wellbeing. 
 
Worldwide, around one in four people will suffer from a mental health problem during their lifetime, yet around 60 percent will not seek help.  
 
These figures increase dramatically when factors such as violence, persecution, the need to flee, disasters or a lack of access to healthcare are involved. 
 
For this reason, in 1998 MSF formally recognised the need to provide mental health and psychosocial care as part of our emergency work.  
 
Many patients seen by MSF will have been separated from their families or witnessed the deaths of loved ones. Others may have been forced to flee their homes, searching for shelter, supplies and safety. These events can immobilise people with depression and anxiety at just the time when they need to take action for themselves and their families. 
 
MSF professionals are there to listen and support so that traumatic experiences do not come to define our patients' lives. 
 
In 2017, MSF provided 306,300 individual mental health consultations, and 49,800 group mental health sessions. We also provide support to help our staff deal with the challenging experiences that they might have had during the course of their work, including upon their return home.