Why does mental health matter in conflict?

The evidence says more than one person in five – that’s 20 per cent of people – that live in a conflict area have some form of mental health condition.

So, in a conflict-affected area we’re talking about mental health issues being three times more than among the general population.

And it’s not just the prevalence of mental health issues, it’s also the lack of access to health care and mental health care in particular – it’s harder in conflict affected areas than for the general population.

We’re talking about people who have witnessed traumatic events, are survivors of sexual violence or families of missing people. People who have seen loved ones, friends, neighbours lose their lives in war or are forced to leave their homes and communities.

This is what makes mental health a priority for the ICRC response and humanitarian response in general.

We know that mental health can be life-saving in times of war and violence, because when you don’t address these needs, they can have far reaching and long-term consequences.

COVID-19 still looms large across the region

I think globally we are still dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mental health was hugely affected by the social restrictions imposed during the pandemic, as well as the long-term economic impact.

As we all know, long periods of lockdown are draining and can affect our mental health.

One lady who phoned our mental health support hotline in Gaza explained this very well – on top of the mental health consequences of being infected, there is the psychological distress of being in quarantine – for almost 100 days in her case. It’s hard to cope with that.

Who are the most vulnerable?

People who live in remote communities, people who live in the shadow of long-running conflicts, or the millions of people who are currently refugees. The Syrian refugees for example, in Lebanon, Jordan.

We care about people who are already in a very vulnerable situation and now also have to deal with COVID-19. To be honest, if you asked them, they would tell you that COVID-19 is not their highest concern.

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Source: https://reliefweb.int/report/world/not-only-mental-health-day-why-mental-health-matters-conflict

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