Posts or Comments 24 June 2024

Community &Mental Health &Peer Education/Counseling Bill Brieger | 12 Mar 2024 09:04 am

Sudan’s Mental Health Crisis: Community-Led Peer Mental Health Counseling

Sudan’s Mental Health Crisis: Community-Led Peer Mental Health Counseling

Omnia Hassan has posted about a unique program of peer-led mental health counseling. Read her thoughts below and check them in the class blog of Social and Behavioral Foundations of Primary Health Care.

As Sudan faces persistent war and conflict, the focus must turn to Sudanese internally displaced persons (IDPs) who are unable to escape the country, facing increasing incidence rates of several serious mental health burdens.

Graphs Source: Mental health consequences among Sudanese due to the armed conflicts and civil unrest of 2023: a cross-sectional study

In Sudan, there are only two psychiatric hospitals and seventeen outpatient mental health facilities for a population of over 40 million. To support the IDPs with improved access to mental health care, the development of a community-led mental health counseling program may be beneficial where community members are educated on how to counsel their peers through mental health burdens. This initiative aims to reduce the effects of mental health illnesses, create a space to speak about difficult experiences, provide accessible mental health resources, and empower Sudanese individuals, restoring their autonomy.

A successful example of this program in Uganda with Rwandan and Somali refugees with PTSD where the evidence demonstrated that 65% of participants no longer fulfilled the criteria for PTSD.

Universities in Sudan, such as Ahfad University of Women, have committed themselves to the education and training of community members to equip them with the knowledge and skills to provide mental health counseling for their peers. The Sudan Ministry of Health (MoH) has lent staff and workers to increase the numbers of those being trained to become lay counselors. Funding is a particular point of discussion, and the United States has frequently sent funds to Sudan for humanitarian assistance. The U.S. Department of State funded a grant for the Ahfad University of Women before as part of the University’s Trauma Training Treatment Center.

Photo Source: Reuters

The UN Refugee Agency acknowledges the displacement issues brought upon the Sudanese population during the war. They have explicitly commented on the displacement of Darfuris in the western region of Sudan, sharing the interventions they have implemented to mitigate mental health issues, such as promoting social cohesion. With over 10 million people uprooted and 9 million people internally displaced, Sudan’s war fuels the largest displacement crisis in the world. The mental health of these individuals needs to be addressed as they endure the most grueling event of their lives.


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