• Brief mental health interventions in conflict and emergency settings: an overview of four Medecins Sans Frontieres -- France programs

      Coldiron, M E; Llosa, A E; Roederer, T; Casas, G; Moro, M-R (BioMed Central, 2013-11-01)
      Mental health problems, particularly anxiety and mood disorders, are prevalent in the setting of humanitarian emergencies, both natural and man-made disasters. Evidence regarding best strategies for therapeutic interventions is sparse. Medecins Sans Frontieres has been providing mental health services during emergencies for over two decades, and here we compare data from four programs.Program Overview: In China, 564 patients were followed for an average of 7 sessions after a major earthquake. The most common diagnoses were PTSD and other anxiety disorders. Between program entry and exit, the median global assessment of functioning increased from 65 to 80. At program entry, 58% were considered moderately, markedly or severely ill; a proportion which fell to 14% at program exit. In Colombia in the setting of chronic violence, 2411 patients were followed for a median of two sessions. Anxiety disorders and major depression were the most common diagnoses, and 76% of patients were moderately or severely ill at program entry. 91% had symptomatic improvement at program exit. In Gaza, 1357 patients were followed for a median of 9 sessions; a majority was under age 15. PTSD and other anxiety disorders were the most common diagnoses, and 91% were moderately or severely ill at entry. 89% had improved symptoms at program exit. In the West Bank, the 1478 patients had similar characteristics to those enrolled in Gaza. 88% were moderately or severely ill at entry; 88% had improved at exit.Discussion and evaluation: It was feasible to implement brief yet effective mental health interventions in a wide variety of humanitarian contexts -- post-natural disaster, during acute violent conflict and during chronic violent conflict. The most common diagnoses were PTSD, other anxiety disorders and mood disorders. The use of local specially-trained counselors who were focused on coping skills and improving functionality over a brief time period, likely contributed to the symptomatic improvement seen in a large majority of patients across the four sites.
    • Counselling in humanitarian settings: a retrospective analysis of 18 individual-focused non-specialised counselling programmes

      Shanks, L; Ariti, C; Siddiqui, R; Pintaldi, G; Venis, S; de Jong, K; Denault, M (BioMed Central, 2013-09-16)
      Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) provides individual counselling interventions in medical humanitarian programmes in contexts affected by conflict and violence. Although mental health and psychosocial interventions are a common part of the humanitarian response, little is known about how the profile and outcomes for individuals seeking care differs across contexts. We did a retrospective analysis of routine programme data to determine who accessed MSF counselling services and why, and the individual and programmatic risk factors for poor outcomes.
    • 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.
    • Evaluation of psychological support for victims of sexual violence in a conflict setting: results from Brazzaville, Congo

      Hustache, S; Moro, M R; Roptin, J; Souza, R; Gansou, G M; Mbemba, A; Roederer, T; Grais, R; Gaboulaud, V; Baubet, T; et al. (2009-04-01)
      ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Little is known about the impact of psychological support in war and transcultural contexts and in particular, whether there are lasting benefits. Here, we present an evaluation of the late effect of post-rape psychological support provided to women in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. METHODS: Women who attended the Médecins Sans Frontières program for sexual violence in Brazzaville during the conflict were selected to evaluate the psychological consequences of rape and the late effect of post-rape psychological support. A total of 178 patients met the eligibility criteria: 1) Women aged more than 15 years; 2) raped by unknown person(s) wearing military clothes; 3) admitted to the program between the 1/1/2002 and the 30/4/2003; and 4) living in Brazzaville. RESULTS: The initial diagnosis according to DSM criteria showed a predominance of anxious disorders (54.1%) and acute stress disorders (24.6%). One to two years after the initial psychological care, 64 women were evaluated using the Trauma Screening Questionnaire (TSQ), the Global Assessment of Functioning scale (GAF) and an assessment scale to address medico-psychological care in emergencies (EUMP). Two patients (3.1%) met the needed criteria for PTSD diagnosis from the TSQ. Among the 56 women evaluated using GAF both as pre and post-test, global functioning was significantly improved by initial post-rape support (50 women (89.3%) had extreme or medium impairment at first post-rape evaluation, and 16 (28.6%) after psychological care; p = 0.04). When interviewed one to two years later, the benefit was fully maintained (16 women (28.6%) presenting extreme or medium impairment). CONCLUSION: We found the benefits of post-rape psychological support to be present and lasting in this conflict situation. However, we were unable to evaluate all women for the long-term impact, underscoring the difficulty of leading evaluation studies in unstable contexts. Future research is needed to validate these findings in other settings.
    • Integrating mental health into primary care for displaced populations: the experience of Mindanao, Philippines

      Mueller, Y; Cristofani, S; Rodriguez, C; Malaguiok, R; Gil, T; Grais, R; Souza, R; Epicentre, Paris, France; Médecins Sans Frontières, Geneva, Switzerland; Médecins Sans Frontières, Mindanao, Philippines (2011-03-07)
      ABSTRACT:
    • Mental health in HIV-positive pregnant women: results from Angola.

      Bernatsky, S; Souza, R; de Jong, K; McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. sasha.bernatsky@mail.mcgill.ca (Taylor & Francis, 2007-05)
      Our objective was to assess the mental health status of pregnant women who are HIV-positive, compared with other groups of pregnant women. We evaluated pregnant HIV-positive women attending the Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) HIV clinic in Malanje, Angola (N = 23). The control group consisted of pregnant women coming for antenatal clinic consultations who were not known to be HIV-positive (N=134). To assess mental health, the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) was used. A score of three or greater was considered to indicate significant emotional distress. We also examined determinants of emotional distress in logistic multivariate regression models. We found that the mean score on the GHQ-12 for the HIV-positive group was more than twice the mean score of the controls, indicating poorer mental health in the HIV-positive group. Two-thirds of HIV-positive women had significant emotional distress, more than twice that in the control group. As well as HIV status, marital status was a strong independent predictor of mental health status, with married women experiencing less emotional distress. Thus, in our sample, pregnant women who were HIV-positive had a much poorer mental health status than the controls. Strategies to improve the mental health of HIV-positive mothers must be implemented and evaluated; efforts to decrease the levels of stigma and discrimination in this population are of key importance.
    • Mental health services for children exposed to armed conflict: Médecins Sans Frontières' experience in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq and the occupied Palestinian territory

      Lokuge, K; Shah, T; Pintaldi, G; Thurber, K; Martínez-Viciana, C; Cristobal, M; Palacios, L; Dear, K; Banks, E; The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, 0200, Australia (W.S. Maney & Son Ltd, 2013)
      Armed conflict has broad-ranging impacts on the mental health and wellbeing of children and adolescents. Mental health needs greatly exceed service provision in conflict settings, particularly for these age groups. The provision and targeting of appropriate services requires better understanding of the characteristics and requirements of children and adolescents exposed to armed conflict.
    • 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.
    • Physical and Sexual Violence, Mental Health indicators, and treatment seeking among street-based population groups in Tegucigalpa, Honduras

      Rio Navarro, J; Cohen, J; Rocillo Arechaga, E; Zuniga, E; Médecins Sans Frontières, México DF, México. javier.rio.navarro@geneva.msf.org (2012-05-01)
      To establish the prevalence of exposure to physical and sexual violence, mental health symptoms, and medical treatment-seeking behavior among three street-based subpopulation groups in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and to assess the association between sociodemographic group, mental health indicators, and exposure to violence.