Mental health conditions in conflict situations are much more widespread than we thought: But there’s a lot we can do to support people
Dr Mark van Ommeren, WHO, 2019
“Today, there is no shortage of countries in conflict. UN estimates suggest that in 2019, nearly 132 million people in 42 countries around the world will need humanitarian assistance resulting from conflict or disaster. Nearly 69 million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced by violence and conflict, the highest number since World War II.
Fortunately, there’s a lot we can do to help them. Indeed, there’s a lot we are doing.
In 2019 WHO is addressing mental health in countries and territories with populations affected by large-scale emergencies across the world, in Bangladesh, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Nigeria, South Sudan, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine and the West Bank and Gaza Strip, among others.
In many countries in the world, ignorance about mental health and mental illness remains widespread. The uptake of mental health care during conflict and other emergencies, in countries where such support has been limited, can lead to the identification of people who are tied up, locked in cages, hidden from society. In many cases, it is this very support that helps dispel myths about mental illness and leads to treatment and care and a path towards a more dignified life.
We have also learned that, when the political will exists, emergencies can be catalysts for building quality mental health services”, Dr Mark van Ommeren, WHO
New WHO prevalence estimates of mental disorders in conflict settings: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Fiona Charlson, Mark van Ommeren, Abraham Flaxman, Joseph Cornett, Harvey Whiteford, Shekhar Saxena, The Lancet, 2019
Background: Existing WHO estimates of the prevalence of mental disorders in emergency settings are more than a decade old and do not reflect modern methods to gather existing data and derive estimates. We sought to update WHO estimates for the prevalence of mental disorders in conflict-affected settings and calculate the burden per 1000 population.
The burden of mental disorders is high in conflict-affected populations. Given the large numbers of people in need and the humanitarian imperative to reduce suffering, there is an urgent need to implement scalable mental health interventions to address this burden.
Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children, 2019
This report gathers expert analysis from a broad cross-section of stakeholders who are committed to bringing this unacceptable situation to an end. It draws out common findings and perspectives that demonstrate increasing cohesion in the action taken across regions to end violence against children. It shows how people the world over are stepping up to prevent and respond to violence and to protect children from its impact. In addition this report demonstrates that success breeds success and there has been real momentum since the 2015 adoption of the 2030 Agenda. Furthermore, this report asks a key question: if the costs of inaction are so high and the solutions are known, why does violence against children continue to take place? What must we do to move better, faster and further in our urgent quest to bring it to an end? We hope that this report, by recognizing progress made, demonstrating what is needed and highlighting what can be done, will chart a course for accelerated action and for an ever-growing movement to end the scourge of violence.
Sustainable Development Outlook 2019: Gathering storms and silver linings: An overview of SDG challenges
UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2019
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have registered some progress since their adoption in 2015. Thanks to concerted efforts of many Governments and development partners, child mortality continues to fall. Hepatitis is on the retreat, while new chronic hepatitis B virus infections is nearly zero. Access to electricity has increased globally and the proportion of urban population living in slums is declining.
Notwithstanding this progress, gathering storms of weakening global economic growth, rising income inequality, unabated global warming and climate change, and escalating conflict are impeding SDG implementation. The tailwinds of rapid technological advances, on the other hand, offer best hope for accelerating SDG progress.
This overview focuses on these key challenges and the policy responses that can address them.
(UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs Economic Analysis)
UN Women, 2019
Families around the world look, feel, and live differently today. Families can be “make or break” for women and girls when it comes to achieving their rights. They can be places of love, care, and fulfillment but, too often, they are also spaces where women’s and girls’ rights are violated, their voices are stifled, and where gender inequality prevails. In today’s changing world, laws and policies need to be based on the reality of how families live.
UN Women’s flagship report, “Progress of the world’s women 2019–2020: Families in a changing world”, assesses the reality of families today in the context of sweeping economic, demographic, political, and social transformation. The report features global, regional, and national data. It also analyses key issues such as family laws, employment, unpaid care work, violence against women, and families and migration.
At a critical juncture for women’s rights, this landmark report proposes a comprehensive family-friendly policy agenda to advance gender equality in diverse families. A package of policies to deliver this agenda is affordable for most countries, according to a costing analysis included in the report. When families are places of equality and justice, economies and societies thrive and unlock the full potential of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The report shows that achieving the SDGs depends on promoting gender equality within families.
Gender-based violence (GBV) is a horrifying reality and human rights violation for women and girls globally. During emergencies, the risk of violence, exploitation and abuse is heightened. At the same time, national systems, including health and legal systems, and community and social support networks weaken. This breakdown of systems can reduce access to health services, including sexual and reproductive health services, and legal services, leading to an environment of impunity in which perpetrators are not held to account. When systems and services are disrupted or destroyed, women and girls face even higher risk of human rights violations such as sexual violence, intimate partner violence, exploitation and abuse, child marriage, denial of resources and harmful traditional practices. GBV has significant and long-lasting impacts on the health, and psychosocial and economic well-being of women and girls, and their families and communities.
Scottish Human Rights Commission, 2018
This tool is based on the PANEL principles (Participation, Accountability, Nondiscrimination, Empowerment and Legality) which form the basis of a human rights based approach. It is intended to help organisations assess their work and identify priorities for improvement towards embedding a human rights based approach.
The Barcelona Guidelines on Wellbeing and Temporary International Relocation of Human Rights Defenders
University of York, 2019
The wellbeing of human rights defenders is a critical but often neglected issue in human rights movements. Deeply committed to their causes, human rights defenders often persevere despite challenges, risks, and personal suffering. Wellbeing – especially of themselves – is often deprioritised. Human rights defenders often find it difficult to talk about their own mental and emotional wellbeing; the very language used in relation to this topic can result in disengagement. Stigma, biases and misconceptions about mental health in their societies – held by themselves and others – may further impede efforts to strengthen their wellbeing.
Save the Children, 2019
The report states that 142 million children are living in high-intensity conflict zones, with many more millions forced to abscond as refugees. More than 24 million children exposed to conflict today are likely to encounter mild to moderate mental health problems yet, as Save the Children rightly contends, the global response to mental health support continues to be regrettably inadequate
The latest issue of the Torture Journal examines sleep deprivation as a method of torture and presents the text of a Protocol on Medico-Legal Documentation of Sleep Deprivation. Finally, this issue also comprises an epidemiological study on knowledge of torture among medical professionals in Tanzania, a case report exemplifying narratives of Tamil survivors of sexual torture in Australia, and a debate on the standing of the Istanbul Protocol in Israel.