• Mental health treatment outcomes in a humanitarian emergency: a pilot model for the integration of mental health into primary care in Habilla, Darfur

      Souza, R; Yasuda, S; Cristofani, S; Médecins Sans Frontières, Geneva, Switzerland; UNIFESP. Federal University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil (2009-07-21)
      BACKGROUND: There is no description of outcomes for patients receiving treatment for mental illnesses in humanitarian emergencies. MSF has developed a model for integration of mental health into primary care in a humanitarian emergency setting based on the capacity of community health workers, clinical officers and health counsellors under the supervision of a psychiatrist trainer. Our study aims to describe the characteristics of patients first attending mental health services and their outcomes on functionality after treatment. METHODS: A total of 114 patients received mental health care and 81 adult patients were evaluated with a simplified functionality assessment instrument at baseline, one month and 3 months after initiation of treatment. RESULTS: Most patients were diagnosed with epilepsy (47%) and psychosis (31%) and had never received treatment. In terms of follow up, 58% came for consultations at 1 month and 48% at 3 months. When comparing disability levels at baseline versus 1 month, mean disability score decreased from 9.1 (95%CI 8.1-10.2) to 7.1 (95%CI 5.9-8.2) p = 0.0001. At 1 month versus 3 months, mean score further decreased to 5.8 (95%CI 4.6-7.0) p < 0.0001. CONCLUSION: The findings suggest that there is potential to integrate mental health into primary care in humanitarian emergency contexts. Patients with severe mental illness and epilepsy are in particular need of mental health care. Different strategies for integration of mental health into primary care in humanitarian emergency settings need to be compared in terms of simplicity and feasibility.