As the Syrian crisis enters its tenth year, severity and complexity of humanitarian needs remain extensive. Years of continued bombardment, attacks on civilians, doctors, health workers, and healthcare facilities has left an extremely vulnerable population in Syria. The healthcare infrastructure has been decimated leaving people with limited to no access to emergency and specialized medical care as they are struggling with disease and malnutrition among other illnesses. Less visibly, countless Syrians, whether they remained inside Syria or sought refuge in Turkey, Jordan, or Lebanon, are in need of mental health care after being exposed to the traumatic experiences they have faced for the past 10 years.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) notes that “the most prevalent and most significant clinical problems among Syrians are emotional disorders, such as: depression, prolonged grief disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder and various forms of anxiety disorders.”
The demand of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) services in the area will continue for a long period of time according to field assessments done by UN agencies (WHO – UNICEF- UNFPA - & UNHCR) as the consequences of the war will remain especially for the new generation. “No Lost Generation” UNICEF 2018 Annual Report.
MHPSS is a vital ongoing adaptation process that needs to be conducted with high standards of care according to WHO and Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC).
UOSSM has played an integral role in mental health, as a leader, expert, and innovator, in the Syrian crisis, and led the way by taking strategic mental health initiatives since 2013, to find constantly evolving solutions for the growing mental health issues arising among the Syrian people due to the armed conflict. UOSSM:
The goal of the MHPSS and Protection program is to improve the psychosocial well-being and resilience of the vulnerable people affected by the Syrian crisis, in addition to focusing on adaptation and cohesion of the Syrian refugees in Turkey to enhance social integration among the refugees and the local communities.
UOSSM Turkey launched the Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support (MHPSS) Program in late 2013 to reduce the migration and the negative effects of the conflict on the people by operating the first MHPSS center in Reyhanli in Turkey, followed by an expansion of the MHPSS program to several locations throughout Turkey.
Over the last 7 years, UOSSM Turkey established five (5) MHPSS centers, including Reyhanli, Gaziantep, Kilis, Ankara, Istanbul. It currently operates four (4) of these MPHSS centers in Turkey. Each center has a team of psychiatrists (Syrian and Turkish), psychologists, clinical psychologists, child psychologists, speech therapists, Special Need Rehabilitation (SNR) facilitator, a nurse, and case workers.
The MHPSS program aims to improve access to Syrian refugees and Arabic-speaking people in Turkey for comprehensive Mental Health (MH) and Psycho-Social Support (PSS) services for all age groups, as well as Special Need Rehabilitation (SNR) services for children with special needs. The MHPSS program includes capacity building of the local community in mental health issues, in addition to adaptation and cohesion services to enhance the integration among refugees and local Turkish communities.
The Community MHPSS centers provides a wide range of services, including assessment, treatment, counseling, case management, special needs rehabilitation (SNR), training, follow-up, surveys, family and caregivers counseling, and other services to the refugees - predominantly Syrians. In addition, MHPSS centers provide outreach services at schools, displacement camps, houses, orphanages, clinics, hospitals, and others.
UOSSM-Turkey incorporates many protection services within its current MHPSS centers and services in Turkey.
Child with speech disorders trained at the special education department of MHPSS in Istanbul, Turkey.