WHO in collaboration with the Ministry of health rolls out Mental Health Gap Humanitarian Intervention Guide to increase coverage of mental health care in South Sudan
The prolonged crises and displacement in South Sudan is negatively impacting the mental health and well-being of everyone affected and can have immediate as well as long-term consequences for individuals, families and communities.
To establish services for people with mental disorders at primary health care (PHC) level, WHO in collaboration with the Ministry of Health has initiated the process to roll-out and adapt Mental Health Gap Humanitarian Intervention Guide (mhGAP HIG) to the context of South Sudan.
mhGAP HIG is a clinical tool that aims to support non-specialist health care providers to assess and manage mental, neurological and substance use conditions in areas affected by humanitarian emergencies where access to specialists and treatment options is limited.
The objective of the implementation of the mhGAP HIG is to scale up evidence based services and improve the quality of life of people with common and severe mental health conditions in South Sudan as well as strengthen the provision of mental health and psychosocial support in line with international standards.
“In emergencies, people are affected in different ways and require different kinds of support”, said Dr Abdulmumini Usman, the World Health Organization Representative to South Sudan. “Promoting and adapting the key principles in the field of mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) activities are vital to improve the psychosocial well-being of persons of concern”.
The crisis in South Sudan has exposed the limited capacity of the country’s mental health system. The available resources are scarce and cannot meet the need of populations affected by the current emergency.
To provide clinical care with follow-up for both severe and common mental disorders, WHO in partnership with the Ministry of Health trained 25 health care workers from the Ministry of Health, national and international organizations on mhGA-HIG. The five day Training of Trainers (ToT) and supervisors strengthens their clinical skills and enables them, in turn, to provide on job training and supervise general health care staff across the country to assist people with mental disorders.
In a situation of overwhelming needs and scarce resources, “practice-oriented mental health trainings for general health workers and ongoing clinical supervision in the basic health care system will lead to substantially increased access to basic mental health care services”, Dr Usman added. As we progress, WHO will continue to provide technical support to the Ministry of Health to ensure that delivery of mental health services are strengthened to assist those who experienced mass violence and trauma due to the conflict.
People living with mental, neurological and substance use conditions are representing an extremely vulnerable group during crisis. It is estimated that less than 3% of those with severe mental disorders are able to receive services in South Sudan.
WHO is appealing to the international community for further resources to urgently scale up services for people with mental neurological and substance use conditions to various geographical locations across the country.
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