World Mental Health Day (WMHD) was October 10 this year, and International Medical Corps’ mental health teams celebrated the day through events in 16 countries around the world. Here’s an overview of our activities this year, which focused on the theme “Mental Health in an Unequal World.”
Our team in Afghanistan celebrated WMHD through a series of events October 10–14 at both the provincial and field levels. Celebrations included presentations, workshops and participatory discussions with Provincial Public Health Directorate (PPHD) officials and health workers, International Medical Corps staff, community members and people with mental health disorders at the eastern regional hospital and Balkh PPHD, our regional offices and six comprehensive health centers. Our mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) team shared WMHD messages, presented the findings from the MHPSS needs assessment that we published earlier this year and distributed relevant information and educational materials to participants for further awareness-raising and advocacy purposes.
On October 13, our Cameroon team organized and participated in an online symposium with Intersos, UNFPA, UNICEF, WFP and other local NGOs, enabling participants to have a conversation about mental health, raise awareness and discuss different interventions.
Central African Republic
The MHPSS team in CAR organized a number of WMHD-related events to raise awareness of mental health issues, as well as the services and interventions offered by International Medical Corps.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
On October 11, our DRC team held sessions in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) to raise awareness about the importance of mental health, accompanied by messages about the importance of overall physical health and the need to accept the COVID -19 vaccine if it is offered.
Our Ethiopia MHPSS team commemorated WMHD in the Dollo Ado, Gambella and Shire areas through a variety of activities from October 11–13. In Dollo Ado and Gambella refugee camps, activities included panel discussions with the Refugee Central committee and key community representatives, including religious leaders, traditional healers, zonal leaders, clients and client families, clan leaders, community self-help group members and community outreach workers of International Medical Corps. We also held mental health walks, a fine art exhibition, and sports, song and psychodrama shows where we distributed key mental health messages. In Gambella, the MHPSS technical working groups organized a webinar and conducted panel discussions with stakeholders and partners. In Tigray, we organized focus group discussions with IDP communities, and held mental health walks in Shire, Sheraro, Aksum and Awa woredas. Finally, we presented client success stories (after receiving consent from clients) in the Midre Genet IDP site, Shire Woreda, Minilik IDP site and Aksum Woreda, and held a panel discussion in collaboration with Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) in Shire.
In conjunction with local volunteers, our team invited local community members to our partners’ community centers for awareness-raising sessions and a question-and-answer session with International Medical Corps MHPSS staff.
Our MHPSS team in Haiti celebrated WMHD with the involvement of the mayor of Aquin (the town where our emergency response team and facility are based), who officially launched the ceremony. The event featured speeches by the mayor, the International Medical Corps Haiti response lead, the director of the Aquin Referral Hospital, the Inspector General of Education, the Commissioner General of the Police and the International Medical Corps MHPSS Coordinator. The highlight of the event was the testimonies of our beneficiaries about the psychosocial support they received from our MHPSS program.
In observance of WMHD, our Iraq team organized a series of awareness-raising activities in October to promote mental health and psychological well-being, and reduce stigma among individuals who received MHPSS services. Awareness-raising sessions also included testimonials and success stories from caregivers of beneficiaries about MHPSS services.
Our Jordan team conducted sessions in refugee camps and urban areas with community members, refugees and local stakeholders, focusing on raising awareness about unequal access to MHPSS services, as well as information on the services available and how to access them. The team also developed awareness-raising videos for circulation on social media.
On October 29, our Lebanon team conducted a full day of online content, hosted on YouTube. Speakers included our Country Director and Senior Global MHPSS Advisor, the head of Lebanon’s National Mental Health Program and a donor representative, and the program included interviews with community members and International Medical Corps MHPSS staff. The focus of the program was how inequality affects the way MHPSS services are provided and accessed, as well as efforts being made to address this problem.
The Libya team’s WMHD celebration program lasted from October 10–20. MHPSS staff conducted awareness sessions in primary healthcare centers and IDP camps about the nature and importance of mental health, and worked with the gender-based violence (GBV) services team to facilitate an art session where participants created drawings based on MHPSS-related topics. Media coverage included radio advertisements on MHPSS awareness and the release of a video on International Medical Corps MHPSS services in the Souk el Thoulathaa isolation center.
Our South Sudan team celebrated WMHD from October 5–14 by engaging in various activities in Juba, Malakal and IDP camps, including community discussions; parades featuring beneficiaries, their families, community members, local leaders, and International Medical Corps and other partner agencies’ staff; sports; drama and dance activities; and radio talk shows.
To mark WMHD, our Syria MHPSS team conducted three awareness-raising sessions in Barzeh clinic that reached 43 women. Topics focused on how to cope positively with stress, particularly the stress brought about by COVID-19.
Our Ukraine team celebrated WMHD on October 12–15 in Kalchik, Mykolaivka and Myrne through a series of events that included informational messages on the history of WMHD and this year’s theme, sharing of success stories, feedback from community representatives, and instructions on how to practice mindfulness, breathing and grounding techniques.
Our Puerto Rico team celebrated WMHD with a range of activities that promoted wellbeing, stress reduction and suicide prevention.
Our Venezuela team organized an educational presentation October 15 that examined the challenges faced by people with mental health problems in Venezuela from different perspectives — including academics, mental health care providers and community leaders — with a goal of creating plausible proposals for the most urgent issues faced by the organizations we invited to the event. The team also held a celebration on October 14 in collaboration with Save the Children.