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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.  
 

Caroline Mwakio during her time in Yambio, South Sudan
25/09/2020

Cameroon: "We are trying to give our patients hope"

Caroline Wawuda Mwakio, from Mombasa, Kenya, recently returned from Cameroon, where she was working as a Mental Health Activity Manager in MSF´s project in the Anglophone area of the country. Here she explains the humanitarian situation in the region, and her work as part of MSF´s response.

Gwoza town © MSF/Scott Hamilton
08/09/2020

Borno state, Nigeria: “Children can draw an assault rifle better than a football or an animal"

Gwoza, a garrison town in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state, is home to 60,000 people, many of them displaced from their homes elsewhere by the conflict. Living conditions are difficult, there is little humanitarian aid, and frequent clashes take place between the military and armed groups. Many people in Gwoza have witnessed acts of violence or lost loved ones, livelihoods and homes as they fled in search of safety. This includes children, many of whom arrived in Gwoza alone.
Kyla Storry, MSF’s mental health activity manager in Gwoza, describes her work helping adults and children cope with their experiences.

25/08/2020

Living in limbo: Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh three years after the main exodus

More than three years since the initial emergency, people are still living in the same overcrowded and basic bamboo shelters, dependent on aid and with little hope for the future.

Pierre Badarani at the MSF tent in Mar Mikhael neighborhood
12/08/2020

Lebanon: MSF teams providing medical and mental health support to Beirut’s most affected communities

MSF is carrying out an emergency response to support the people most impacted by the explosion in Beirut 

13/07/2020

More than 8,313 people access online mental health support tool in the past month

MSF's online mental health support tool helps people to deal with their emotions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

08/07/2020

South Africa: Supporting mental health during a pandemic

“It’s not like a broken leg that you can see and the world responds appropriately. A broken mind or soul is hard to identify” – Leigh-Anne Snyman, nurse specialising in patient support, Doctors Without Borders (MSF)

02/06/2020

MSF launches new online mental health tool during COVID-19 pandemic

The tool provides practical solutions and advice to help people cope with their emotions during the pandemic, and is free to use via the MSF website 

Refugee population in Andeamboukane, Mali
06/03/2020

Mali – Fleeing violence in Niger, the refugee population remains vulnerable

"Our living conditions are shameful. We lack food, shelter, assistance and we continue to live in fear", complains Issouf. Like many others, he and his family fled clashes between Nigerian forces and armed groups in northern Niger, to take refuge in Mali on the other side of the border.

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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.