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  • Mental health and deprivation of liberty: experience report as a psychiatrist in a refugee detention center

    Schmid, PC (Centro Brasileiro de Estudos de Saúde, 2019-08-05)
    The experience report refers to the author’s work, for six months, as a psychiatrist for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders - MSF) in a refugee detention center in Nauru, an island country in Oceania. The report provides descriptions of the field work and theoretical reflections. The author discusses the issue of suicide and the specificity of such issue for the group of refugees and asylum seekers attended, as well as the discovery of a new clinical diagnosis called resignation syndrome. It’s also sought to reflect on the role of mental health professionals in dealing with deprivation of liberty and discusses ethical challenges experienced in the field, regarding Australia’s refugee policy, its economic importance to Nauru and the impact on the refugee population; obstacles encountered until MSF team was expelled by the local government on October 5th, 2018.
  • "I prefer dying fast than dying slowly", how institutional abuse worsens the mental health of stranded Syrian, Afghan and Congolese migrants on Lesbos island following the implementation of EU-Turkey deal

    Eleftherakos, C; van den Boogaard, W; Barry, D; Severy, N; Kotsioni, I; Roland-Gosselin, L (BioMed Central, 2018-09-05)
    Background In 2015 and early 2016, close to 1 million migrants transited through Greece, on their way to Western Europe. In early 2016, the closure of the “Balkan-route” and the EU/Turkey-deal led to a drastic reduction in the flow of migrants arriving to the Greek islands. The islands became open detention centers, where people would spend months or years under the constant fear of being returned to Turkey. Syrians were generally granted refugee status in Greece and those arrived before the 20th of March 2016 had the option of being relocated to other European countries. Afghans had some chances of being granted asylum in Greece, whilst most migrants from the Democratic Republic of Congo were refused asylum. In a clinic run by Médecins sans Frontières on Lesbos Island, psychologists observed a deterioration of the migrant’s mental health (MH) since March 2016. In order to understand the MH needs for this stranded population it was essential to explore how, and by what factors, their mental health (MH) has been affected on Lesbos Island due to the EU/Turkey-deal. Methods This was a qualitative study in which eight service providers’ interviews and 12 focus group discussions with male and female Syrian, Afghan and Congolese migrants in two refugee camps on Lesbos Island. Thematic-content analysis was manually applied and triangulation of findings was undertaken to enhance the interpretation of data. Results Three main themes were generated: 1) Institutional abuse, 2) Continuous traumatic stress (CTS) and 3) MH service provision. Institutional abuse was expressed by inhumane living conditions, lack of information in order to make future decisions, humiliation and depersonalization. This led to CTS that was expressed through being in a state of permanent emergency under lack of protective measures. Delays in appointments, lack of psychiatric care and differences in MH perceptions amongst migrants highlighted the provision of MH services. Conclusion The EU/Turkey-deal reduced migrant flows at a very high price. Decongestion of the camps and the elimination of institutional abuse is urgently needed to reduce CTS and improve migrants’ MH.
  • Outcomes of an individual counselling programme in Grozny, Chechnya: a randomised controlled study

    Lenglet, A; Lopes-Cardozo, B; Shanks, L; Blanton, C; Feo, C; Tsatsaeva, Z; Idrisov, K; Bolton, P; Pintaldi, G (BMJ Publishing Group, 2018-08-23)
    To evaluate the effectiveness of individual counselling on functioning of clients participating in a mental health intervention in a humanitarian setting.
  • "I feel like I am less than other people": Health-related vulnerabilities of male migrants travelling alone on their journey to Europe

    Arsenijević, J; Burtscher, D; Ponthieu, A; Severy, N; Contenta, A; Moissaing, S; Argenziano, S; Zamatto, F; Zachariah, R; Ali, E; et al. (Elsevier, 2018-05-23)
    During 2015 and 2016, an unprecedented flow of approximately 800,000 migrants coming from Turkey towards Western Europe crossed the Balkans. Male migrants are perceived as being less vulnerable compared to other migrants and they are not given priority in service and support provision. This qualitative study examines the self-perceived vulnerabilities of male migrants travelling alone along the Balkan route to Europe. Twenty-four individual in-depth interviews, two group interviews and participant observation were conducted with male migrants in Belgrade, Serbia in 2017. Data was coded manually, and analysed thematically. Male migrants traveling alone face the cumulative vulnerability of various traumatic events and migration-related contextual circumstances. Three main themes emerged: the ongoing desperate journey, the better treatment of 'traditionally' well recognised vulnerable sub-groups and the impact of the continuous stress on mental health. Deterrence measures imposed for border control purposes in the form of push-backs, expulsions, detention and degrading, inhumane treatment amplify the psychological distress of male migrants. Feelings of hopelessness, desperation, lack of self-value and self-esteem were reported. 'Traditionally vulnerable' populations were said to have had better treatment throughout the journey from smugglers, border state authorities, governmental officials, civil society and international organizations. The devastating experiences of male migrants, as well as the better treatment offered to other groups of migrants like women and children, results in a perceived neglect of the needs of men in humanitarian response, rendering them vulnerable and exposing them to further health and protection risks. In a context where needs are unmet and people's dignity and health are at risk, specific strategies should be developed to include men in the assistance and protection offered, particularly in relation to exposure to violence.
  • Validation of mental health screening instruments in the Kashmir Valley, India

    Housen, T; Lenglet, A; Ariti, C; Ara, S; Shah, S; Dar, M; Hussain, A; Paul, A; Wagay, Z; Viney, K; et al. (SAGE Publications, 2018-03-19)
    The present study aimed to culturally adapt, translate, and validate the Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25 (HSCL-25) and the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire-Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms Checklist (HTQ-16) prior to use in a cross-sectional mental health population survey in the Kashmir Valley. Cultural adaptation and translation of the HSCL-25 and the HTQ-16 employed multiple forms of transcultural validity check. The HSCL-25 and HTQ-16 were compared against a "gold standard" structured psychiatric interview, the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI). Interviews were conducted with 290 respondents recruited using consecutive sampling from general medical outpatient departments in five districts of the Kashmir Valley. Receiver operating characteristics (ROC) analysis was used to estimate the cut point with optimal discriminatory power based on sensitivity and specificity. Internal reliability of the HSCL-25 was high, Cronbach's alpha (α) = .92, intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) = 0.75, with an estimated optimal cut point of 1.50, lower than the conventional cut point of 1.75. Separation of the instruments into subscales demonstrated a difference in the estimated cut point for the anxiety subscale and the depression subscale, 1.75 and 1.57, respectively. Too few respondents were diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during structured psychiatric interview, and therefore the HTQ-16 could not be validated despite the fact that high internal reliability was demonstrated (α = .90). This study verified the importance of culturally adapting and validating screening instruments in particular contexts. The use of the conventional cut point of 1.75 would likely have misclassified depression in our survey, leading to an underestimate of this condition.
  • Syrian refugees in Greece: experience with violence, mental health status, and access to information during the journey and while in Greece

    Ben Farhat, J; Blanchet, K; Juul Bjertrup, P; Veizis, A; Perrin, C; Coulborn, RM; Mayaud, P; Cohuet, S (BioMed Central, 2018-03-13)
    BACKGROUND: Since 2015, Europe has been facing an unprecedented arrival of refugees and migrants: more than one million people entered via land and sea routes. During their travels, refugees and migrants often face harsh conditions, forced detention, and violence in transit countries. However, there is a lack of epidemiological quantitative evidence on their experiences and the mental health problems they face during their displacement. We aimed to document the types of violence experienced by migrants and refugees during their journey and while settled in Greece, and to measure the prevalence of anxiety disorders and access to legal information and procedures. METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional population-based quantitative survey combined with an explanatory qualitative study in eight sites (representing the range of settlements) in Greece during winter 2016/17. The survey consisted of a structured questionnaire on experience of violence and an interviewer-administered anxiety disorder screening tool (Refugee Health Screener). RESULTS: In total, 1293 refugees were included, of whom 728 were Syrians (41.3% females) of median age 18 years (interquartile range 7-30). Depending on the site, between 31% and 77.5% reported having experienced at least one violent event in Syria, 24.8-57.5% during the journey to Greece, and 5-8% in their Greek settlement. Over 75% (up to 92%) of respondents ≥15 years screened positive for anxiety disorder, which warranted referral for mental health evaluation, which was only accepted by 69-82% of participants. Access to legal information and assistance about asylum procedures were considered poor to non-existent for the majority, and the uncertainty of their status exacerbated their anxiety. CONCLUSIONS: This survey, conducted during a mass refugee crisis in a European Community country, provides important data on experiences in different refugee settings and reports the high levels of violence experienced by Syrian refugees during their journeys, the high prevalence of anxiety disorders, and the shortcomings of the international protective response.
  • Evaluating Process and Clinical Outcomes of a Primary Care Mental Health Integration Project in Rural Rwanda: a Prospective Mixed-Methods Protocol

    Smith, SL; Misago, CN; Osrow, RA; Franke, MF; Iyamuremye, JD; Dusabeyezu, JD; Mohand, AA; Anatole, M; Kayiteshonga, Y; Raviola, GJ (BMJ Publishing Group Limited 2013, 2017-02-28)
    Integrating mental healthcare into primary care can reduce the global burden of mental disorders. Yet data on the effective implementation of real-world task-shared mental health programmes are limited. In 2012, the Rwandan Ministry of Health and the international healthcare organisation Partners in Health collaboratively adapted the Mentoring and Enhanced Supervision at Health Centers (MESH) programme, a successful programme of supported supervision based on task-sharing for HIV/AIDS care, to include care of neuropsychiatric disorders within primary care settings (MESH Mental Health). We propose 1 of the first studies in a rural low-income country to assess the implementation and clinical outcomes of a programme integrating neuropsychiatric care into a public primary care system.
  • A Two-Phase Approach for the Identification of Refugees with Priority Need for Mental Health Care in Lebanon: A Validation Study

    Llosa, AE; Van Ommeren, M; Kolappa, K; Ghantous, Z; Souza, R; Bastin, P; Slavuckij, A; Grais, RF (BioMed Central, 2017-01-18)
    Time and resource efficient mental disorder screening mechanisms are not available to identify the growing number of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons in priority need for mental health care. The aim of this study was to identify efficient screening instruments and mechanisms for the detection of moderate and severe mental disorders in a refugee setting.
  • Mental Health and Trauma in Asylum Seekers Landing in Sicily in 2015: A Descriptive Study of Neglected Invisible Wounds

    Crepet, A; Rita, F; Reid, A; Van den Boogaard, W; Deiana, P; Quaranta, G; Barbieri, A; Bongiorno, F; Di Carlo, S (BioMed Central, 2017-01-13)
    In 2015, Italy was the second most common point of entry for asylum seekers into Europe after Greece. The vast majority embarked from war-torn Libya; 80,000 people claimed asylum that year. Their medical conditions were assessed on arrival but their mental health needs were not addressed in any way, despite the likelihood of serious trauma before and during migration. Médecins sans Frontières (MSF), in agreement with the Italian Ministry of Health, provided mental health (MH) assessment and care for recently-landed asylum seekers in Sicily. This study documents mental health conditions, potentially traumatic events and post-migratory living difficulties experienced by asylum seekers in the MSF programme in 2014-15.
  • Mental Illness Is Not a State of Mind

    Balinska, M (BMJ Publishing Group, 2016-10-05)
  • Not Forgetting Severe Mental Disorders in Humanitarian Emergencies: a Descriptive Study From the Philippines

    Weintraub, AC; Garcia, MG; Birri, E; Severy, N; Ferir, MC; Ali, E; Tayler-Smith, K; Nadera, DP; Van Ommeren, M (Oxford University Press, 2016-09-12)
    Severe mental disorders are often neglected following a disaster. Based on Médecins Sans Frontières' (MSF) experience of providing mental health (MH) care after the 2013 typhoon in the Philippines, we describe the monthly volume of MH activities and beneficiaries; characteristics of people seeking MH care; profile and outcomes of people with severe mental disorders; prescription of psychotropic medication; and factors facilitating the identification and management of individuals with severe mental disorders.
  • Mental Health Problems Among Conflict-Affected Adults in Grozny, Chechnya: a Qualitative Study

    Nguyen, AJ; Feo, C; Idrisov, K; Pintaldi, G; Lenglet, A; Tsatsaeva, Z; Bolton, P; Bass, J (BioMed Central, 2016-08-03)
    A decade of conflict in Chechnya destroyed infrastructure and resulted in widespread exposure to violence. Amidst substantial reconstruction, periodic violence has contributed to an ongoing atmosphere of insecurity. We conducted a qualitative study to understand the mental health and psychosocial problems affecting adult Chechens in this context to inform development of assessment tools for an evaluation study related to individual counseling.
  • Monitoring and Evaluating Psychosocial Intervention Outcomes in Humanitarian Aid

    de Jong, K; Ariti, C; van der Kam, S; Mooren, T; Shanks, L; Pintaldi, G; Kleber, R (Public Library of Science, 2016-06-17)
    Existing tools for evaluating psychosocial interventions (un-validated self-reporting questionnaires) are not ideal for use in non-Western conflict settings. We implement a generic method of treatment evaluation, using client and counsellor feedback, in 18 projects in non-Western humanitarian settings. We discuss our findings from the perspective of validity and suggestions for future research. A retrospective analysis is executed using data gathered from psychosocial projects. Clients (n = 7,058) complete two (complaints and functioning) rating scales each session and counsellors rate the client's status at exit. The client-completed pre- and post-intervention rating scales show substantial changes. Counsellor evaluation of the clients' status shows a similar trend in improvement. All three multivariable models for each separate scale have similar associations between the scales and the investigated variables despite different cultural settings. The validity is good. Limitations are: ratings give only a general impression and clinical risk factors are not measured. Potential ceiling effects may influence change of scales. The intra and inter-rater reliability of the counsellors' rating is not assessed. The focus on client and counsellor perspectives to evaluate treatment outcome seems a strong alternative for evaluation instruments frequently used in psychosocial programming. The session client rated scales helps client and counsellor to set mutual treatment objectives and reduce drop-out risk. Further research should test the scales against a cross-cultural valid gold standard to obtain insight into their clinical relevance.
  • Health Services for Gender-Based Violence: Médecins Sans Frontières Experience Caring for Survivors in Urban Papua New Guinea

    Lokuge, K; Verputten, M; Ajakali, M; Tolboom, B; Joshy, G; Thurber, K A; Plana, D; Howes, S; Wakon, A; Banks, E (Public Library of Science, 2016-06-10)
    Levels of gender-based violence in Papua New Guinea (PNG) are high; health services for survivors are limited. Evidence from the few existing health services for survivors can inform improvements in care in this and similar settings.
  • Maternal Perception of Emotional Difficulties of Preschool Children in Rural Niger

    Marquer, C; Grais, RF; Moro, MR (SAGE Publications We regret that this article is behind a paywall., 2016-05-31)
    Mental health care for infants and young children is often greatly limited in low-resource settings. The purpose of this study was to describe maternal perception of emotional difficulties of preschool children in a rural area of Niger (Maradi). In this context, both mental health awareness and services were scarce. This research was part of a larger cross-cultural validation study of a screening tool for psychological difficulties in children aged 3 to 6 years old. Data collection included group discussion and individual interviews. A total of 10 group interviews and 83 individual interviews were conducted. The results highlight mothers' perceptions concerning their children's psychological difficulties. Sleep difficulties were considered significant by the mothers and were used often as an entry point for further discussion of concerns. Peer and sibling relationships, separation anxiety, and reactions to difficult events were also described. Identification of mothers' perceptions of children's main difficulties through a mixed-method approach shows promise as a way to inform interventions to provide culturally appropriate care for children in need.
  • "Losing the tombola": a case study describing the use of community consultation in designing the study protocol for a randomised controlled trial of a mental health intervention in two conflict-affected regions

    Shanks, L; Moroni, C; Rivera, I C; Price, D; Clementine, S B; Pintaldi, G (BioMed Central, 2015-06-02)
    Community consultation is increasingly recommended, and in some cases, required by ethical review boards for research that involves higher levels of ethical risk such as international research and research with vulnerable populations. In designing a randomised control trial of a mental health intervention using a wait list control, we consulted the community where the research would be undertaken prior to finalising the study protocol. The study sites were two conflict-affected locations: Grozny in the Chechen Republic and Kitchanga in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • Emergency psychiatric care in North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

    Goodfriend, M; ter Horst, R; Pintaldi, G; Junker, A; Frielingsdorf, H; Depeyrot, J; Matasci, L; Moroni, C; Musengetsi, A; Shanks, L (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2014-10-15)
  • HIV, multidrug-resistant TB and depressive symptoms: when three conditions collide.

    Das, M; Isaakidis, P; Van den Bergh, R; Kumar, A M V; Nagaraja, S B; Valikayath, A; Jha, S; Jadhav, B; Ladomirska, J (Co-Action Publishing, 2014-09-09)
    Background: Management of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) patients co-infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is highly challenging. Such patients are subject to long and potentially toxic treatments and may develop a number of different psychiatric illnesses such as anxiety and depressive disorders. A mental health assessment before MDR-TB treatment initiation may assist in early diagnosis and better management of psychiatric illnesses in patients already having two stigmatising and debilitating diseases. Objective: To address limited evidence on the baseline psychiatric conditions of HIV-infected MDR-TB patients, we aimed to document the levels of depressive symptoms at baseline, and any alteration following individualized clinical and psychological support during MDR-TB therapy, using the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) tool, among HIV-infected patients. Design: This was a retrospective review of the medical records of an adult (aged >15 years) HIV/MDR-TB cohort registered for care during the period of August 2012 through to March 2014. Results: A total of 45 HIV/MDR-TB patients underwent baseline assessment using the PHQ-9 tool, and seven (16%) were found to have depressive symptoms. Of these, four patients had moderate to severe depressive symptoms. Individualized psychological and clinical support was administered to these patients. Reassessments were carried out for all patients after 3 months of follow-up, except one, who died during the period. Among these 44 patients, three with baseline depressive symptoms still had depressive symptoms. However, improvements were observed in all but one after 3 months of follow-up. Conclusion: Psychiatric illnesses, including depressive symptoms, during MDR-TB treatment demand attention. Routine administration of baseline mental health assessments by trained staff has the potential to assist in determining appropriate measures for the management of depressive symptoms during MDR-TB treatment, and help in improving overall treatment outcomes. We recommend regular monitoring of mental health status by trained counsellors or clinical staff, using simple, validated and cost-effective tools.
  • Offering mental health services in a conflict affected region of Pakistan: who comes, and why?

    Shah, Safieh; Van den Bergh, Rafael; Van Bellinghen, Benedicte; Severy, Nathalie; Sadiq, Sana; Afridi, Sher Ali; Akhtar, Asma; Maïkére, Jacob; Van Overloop, Catherine; Saeed-Ur-Rehman; et al. (2014-06-25)
    North West Pakistan is an area ravaged by conflict and population displacement for over three decades. Recently, drone attacks and military operations have aggravated underlying mental disorders, while access to care is limited. Among patients attending a mental health clinic integrated in district hospital conducted by psychologists; we describe service utilization, patient characteristics, presenting complaints, morbidity patterns, and follow-up details.
  • The Efficacy of Psychosocial Interventions for Adults in Contexts of Ongoing Man-Made Violence—A Systematic Review

    Jong, K d; Knipscheer, J W; Ford, N; Kleber, R J (Scientific Research Publishing, 2014-03-31)
    Compared to psychosocial programs implemented in post-conflict settings those executed in areas of ongoing conflicts may have different effects. Their evidence of efficacy has never been systematically reviewed. We searched PubMed, PsychInfo and the Dutch Tropical Institute Literature Portal from inception to31 January 2013 to identify studies on community-oriented psychosocial and psychiatric/clinical services for adults during ongoing man-made conflict or its direct aftermath.Of 6358 articles screened, 16 met our inclusion criteria. The interventions varied from psycho-educational to psychotropic drugs. The review is presented using outcome indicators such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, physical health, functioning and well being. A substantial improvement of some outcome was found though the small number of studies and their heterogeneity did not justify strong conclusions. PTSD symptoms improved significantly by treatments that included exposure (such as narrative exposure therapy). A number of studies (eight) showed notable improvement of the client’s functioning through counseling interventions. Depression and anxiety both improved considerably using that culturally adapted interventions (two studies), whereas non-culturalized interventions did not. We found a notable lack of studies on the efficacy of medication and on preferred western, evidence-based interventions for PTSD such Eye Movement Desensitization.To measure outcomes only two studies applied locally-developed diagnostic labels and validated instruments. Future research should encourage the use of robust research methods that are culturally valid, including mixed-methods research to combine measurable outputs with qualitative research aimed at improved understanding from the client’s perspective.

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