Mental Health Programs In Areas Of Armed Conflict: The Medecins Sans Frontieres Counselling Centres In Bosnia-Hercegovina

Mental health programmes in complex emergencies are generally accepted as an important component of aid work. However, this is a relatively recen t developmen t and th ere is a lack of theory-based practice and little analysis of previous interventions upon which effective, appropriate and sustainable programmes can be based. This article describes the theoretical framework, objectives, implementation and in terven tion activities of the m en tal heal th programme ofMUBecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Bosnia-Hercegovina, 1994-1998. Approximately10,000individuals were helped during this time. The aims of the programmes were to provide culturally-appropriate support, assistin coping with extreme stress, counteract helplessness, and reinforce protective factors. Ten counselling centres were established where 70 local counsellors and supervisors worked after a trainingperiod of three months. Assistance and interventionsprovided by the counsellors ranged from mass psycho-education, training, individual outreach activities to crisis intervention and brief psychotherapeutic treatment Dpsychological structuring, working on (self) control, training self-help techniques, reconnecting the experiences to one demotions and discussing the personal meaningof traumatic experiences. Despite general acceptance that war may lead to serious mental health problems, the provision of help is stifled by disagreement on the cultural relevance and effectiveness of different in terven tions in em ergen cy mental health programmes. This article, describing the establishmen t of a training programme and counselling centres during a war, and the continuation ofthese programmes six years on, provides a strong case in favour of the applicability of these programmes.

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Kaz de Jong, Rolf J. Kleber, Vesna Puratic | 2003
In: Intervention: the international journal of mental health, psychosocial work and counselling in areas of armed conflict, ISSN 1571-8883 | 1 | 1 | 14-32
Civil Warfare, War Neuroses, Washington Anthrax Attacks (2001), Washington Area Sniper Attacks (2002), Wenchuan Earthquake (2008)