Skip to main content

Newsletter block in header

prev
next

Languages

You are here

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.  
 

Asylum seeker dies in detention centre fire
03/03/2020

Asylum seeker dies in Libya’s detention centre fire.

2 March, 2020 – Yefren, Libya. During the night of Saturday 29 February to Sunday 1 March, a fire broke out in Dhar el Jebel detention centre, where over 500 refugees and migrants are arbitrarily detained south of Tripoli in the Nafusa Mountains in Libya. A 26 years old Eritrean man tragically lost his life as he got caught up in the flames while sleeping in one of the overcrowded cells of the detention centre.

Eagle Pass International Bridge, where USA border police intercept them in the middle of the channel.[Photo: Juan Carlos Tomasi]
10/02/2020

No Way Out: Doctors Without Borders Report Shows Damaging Health Impacts of US-Mexico Migration Policies

Mexico City/New York, NY, February 11, 2020—New migration policies imposed by the United States and Mexico are trapping many Central Americans in dangerous conditions, with severe consequences for their physical and mental health, said the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in a report released today.

Embedded thumbnail for Facing Noma
19/11/2019

Facing Noma

Noma is a little understood, rapidly progressing gangrenous infection of the mouth and face, associated with a high mortality rate. This preventable disease eats away rapidly tissue, leaving survivors with holes and facial disfigurements that cause them life-threatening impairments and provokes a social stigma.
Dadaab Overview
18/11/2019

SHUT OUT & FORGOTTEN

Refugees in Dadaab appeal for dignity

Embedded thumbnail for Tips to De-Stress
30/10/2019

Tips to De-Stress

Our aid workers often face highly stressful situations, so we give them guidance on how to cope. These tips can benefit everyone. They focus on the mind, the body, and social connections.
Kidnapping of migrants has been for a while now a lucrative business for the criminal gangs operating in the Mexican northern cities bordering the US. [photo: Juan Carlos Tomasi]
30/10/2019

Increase in kidnappings and extreme violence against migrants on the southern border of Mexico

The policies of criminalisation, persecution, detention and deportation applied in Mexico in order to contain migratory flows to the northern border with the US have forced the migrant population to go underground and take increasingly dangerous routes where they are more vulnerable to criminal gangs and violence during their journey through Mexico.

Thousands of life jackets left behind by arriving migrants are gathered at a dump on Lesbos Island, Greece.  [ © Robin Hammond/Witness Change]
09/09/2019

Greece: Islands once again at breaking point

As sea arrivals reach record high numbers, vulnerable people on Lesbos remain trapped in overcrowded and unsafe conditions – without access to urgently needed mental health and medical care.

Refugees trapped in Moria camp on Lesbos Island. The awful conditions at Moria camp/Olive Grove and arbitrary administrative situations have had a dramatic impact on their health and in particular their mental health. [ © Robin Hammond/Witness Change ]
05/09/2019

A disastrous policy: vulnerable people trapped on the Greek islands pay the price of inhumane policies of the EU-Turkey deal

In Lesbos and Samos, thousands of people are left in inhumane conditions with very limited access to water, sanitation and health. 

Pages

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.