Implementing scalable interventions for common mental disorders in response to the Syrian refugee crisis: First results regarding Problem Management Plus (PM+) programs

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Abstract

The crisis in Syria has resulted in an unprecedented increase in the number of refugees seeking asylum in Syria's neighboring countries as well as in Europe. Syrian refugees may have been exposed to multiple war stressors such including sexual violence and destruction of their homes and livelihoods, and they have often undertaken a risky and stressful flight leaving their homes for an unknown future. Studies show that refugees are at considerable risk to develop common mental disorders, including depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related somatic health symptoms. The World Health Organization has developed a range of scalable psychological interventions aimed at reducing psychological distress and improving functioning in people living in communities affected by adversity. These interventions, including Problem Management Plus (PM+) and its variants, are intended to be delivered by lay, non-professional people who have not received specialized mental health training. Previous randomized clinical trial results in a conflict-affected area in Pakistan showed beneficial effects in terms of reductions in anxiety, depression, functional disability, and posttraumatic stress than those who received an enhanced treatment as usual. With these positive findings as a starting point, the recently EU-funded STRENGTHS project will implement, scale-up and evaluate this new generation of low-intensity interventions in the context of the Syrian refugee crisis. The PM+ programmes will be implemented by peer-refugees and evaluated across refugee settings in Europe (Netherlands, Turkey, Switzerland, Germany and Sweden) and the Middle East (Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt). In this presentation, the evidence base for STRENGTHS project will be outlined. In addition, and preliminary results concerning identification of expected barriers and facilitators implementation of the PM+ programmes will be presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S44
JournalEuropean Psychiatry
Volume48
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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