Practical research to address humanitarian crisis

middle east

A consensus based research project has revealed a need for more information to improve mental health of people experiencing humanitarian crises. The agenda aims to strengthen mental health and psychosocial support in humanitarian settings with input from 82 experts -- academics, policy makers and practitioners – representing regions in crisis. The experts are calling for more focused information on generating and developing practical knowledge that could have tangible benefits in humanitarian settings rather than more information on diseases they feel they know well, for instance, post-traumatic stress syndrome, which have dominated academic debates, research and seminars.

This survey was important because humanitarian crises affect millions of people every year. In 2009, there were 36 armed conflicts in 26 countries and many natural disasters. Humanitarian crises were global and affected 119 million people. The impact on mental health and psychosocial well-being is far reaching. Increased psychological distress, social problems, relocation and dislocation, and common mental disorders like depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders need to be assessed.

They want ten priority research questions studied. These relate to problem analysis, mental health and psychosocial support interventions, research and information management, and mental health and psychosocial support. The authors of the report assert that covering these topic will better align researchers and practitioners on areas of crisis in populations where humanitarian stress is very real. By working together in their areas of expertise and focusing on these ten topics, the group hopes to come up with real solutions to the increasing needs of populations in distress.

“Our research priority setting initiative – the first of its kind in this particular field – showed promising points of agreement between diverse stakeholders on research priorities for mental health and psychosocial support in humanitarian settings,” according to the authors. “There was a strong endorsement of research that achieves tangible benefits for programming and that gives emphasis to participation with and sensitivity to the specific sociocultural context of the populations living in humanitarian settings.”

Source: PLoS, MedicalNewToday


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