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
This book is primarily intended for health and legal professionals who work with or are likely to come into contact with torture survivors, but anyone with an interest in the question of torture will find useful insights. These short articles provide an array of illuminating and readable perspectives on different aspects of a complicated subject. Together they comprise an excellent introduction to the many challenges and opportunities associated with the task of establishing medical evidence in cases of alleged torture.
Thomson Reuters Foundation
Women migrants fleeing wars, political instability and poverty are taking contraceptives in the expectation of being raped but are so desperate they still embark on the journey, a human rights group said on Wednesday.
Council of Europe, 2016
The thousands of human beings who have already been through the severe pain of torture also face a range of devastating long-term consequences. In particular, survivors of torture frequently experience chronic pain, headaches, insomnia, nightmares, depression, flashbacks, anxiety, and panic attacks, and can become overwhelmed by feelings of fear, helplessness and even guilt because of what happened to them. Feelings of shame and a loss of dignity on the part of torture victims are often compounded by stigmatisation in the community and social isolation. Post-traumatic stress disorder affects both the victims themselves and their families. If left untreated, the consequences of torture can extend throughout a person’s life-time and even beyond, across generations, having a corrosive effect upon entire societies.
Established in 1990, is a non governmental and non-profit organisation providing treatment and rehabilitation services for torture survivors and documenting human rights violations in Turkey. The HRFT grew out of the necessity to further promote the prevention of torture in Turkey where grave human rights violations left thousands of people tortured and traumatised.