Worldwide close to 80 million people are currently impacted by humanitarian emergencies arising from natural disasters and armed conflicts, such as those in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Yemen, and more recently, Nepal.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 5 per cent to 10 per cent of these people suffer from a mental health condition such as depression as a result of the emergency.
In a statement by the world body, people with mental health disorders rarely have access to specialized health workers trained in assessing and managing their conditions.
WHO and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have therefore produced a mental health Gap Action Programme Humanitarian Intervention Guide (mhGAP-HIG), so non-specialist health workers can better identify, assess and manage mental health needs.
“The new guide provides practical, first-line management recommendations for mental, neurological and substance use conditions. Contents include modules on assessing and managing conditions such as acute stress, grief, moderate-severe depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, epilepsy, and harmful use of alcohol and drugs,” it states.