Learning to Better Treat Mentally Traumatized Patients in Iraq

This month, a group of Iraqi medical professionals, social workers and psychiatrists gathered in Mosul for three days to undergo intensive training on integrating the provision of mental health care in primary health care centers and hospitals. The professionals in this group work at 16 different facilities and organizations across Iraq, in Mosul, Sinjar, Baghdad and other locations, all affected by years of war.

Some of the training participants

The training was led by Dr. Abdul-Monaf al-Jadiry, one of Iraq’s leading psychiatrists, who conducted an in-depth needs assessment of the mental health care sector in Ninewa and the government and civil society response to the mental health crisis in these areas that survived years of ISIS rule and war.

The participants discussed how with few resources available, the staff at primary health care centers can still offer mental health care support. The needs for such care are immense – even before ISIS took over a third of Iraq’s territory in 2014 and the subsequent military campaign to oust ISIS from those regions, the prevalence of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder was high across Iraq, with 18.8% of Iraqis estimated to have suffered at least one of these disorders in their lifetime. Rates of these disorders were even higher among Iraq’s children. A group of Iraqi medical experts estimated that as much as one-third of all children in Baghdad, Mosul, and Dohuk demonstrated symptoms of moderate-to-severe mental disorders.

The needs assessment and training would not have been possible without the generosity of our supporters, who have donated over $15,000 for our Trauma Recovery Initiative, carried out in partnership with the Iraq Health Access Organization (IHAO).

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