A new community-centered psychosocial support pilot study testing socio-therapy mental health intervention efficacy on Congolese refugees

A new community socio-therapy counseling method is being tested on Congolese refugees to establish the best approach to treating and preventing mental health illnesses amongst Congolese refugees.

The new psychotherapy project is being conducted as a shift to find better treatments of mental health cases among refugees. It is said that there is the need to establish the most suitable method to prevent and treat increasing mental health illnesses amongst refugees who due to their destitute conditions are prone to environmental mental illness triggers of stress identified to come from lack of basic resources, family violence, lack of safety and security.

“The project aims to culturally and linguistically adapt Community-based Sociotherapy for use with Congolese refugees and evaluate its efficacy and cost-effectiveness for addressing the elevated levels of mental health difficulties experienced by populations that have been subject to conflict and displacement. If the interventions are shown to be effective, the research team will work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees,” stated Dr. Ross White, Principal Investigator, COSATAR Project.

“The CBS is delivered by lay-facilitators over fifteen weekly 3-hour group sessions. The sessions explore six phases: safety, trust, care, respect, new life orientations, and memory. The social space if the group is governed by key principles including democracy, equality, and confidentiality,” stated Mental Health Network Innovation.

It is elaborated that identifying the effective treatment for mental illnesses from the present array in use to establish efficacy, efficiency, and measurability is difficult. The choice of a Community-based approach to treating popular mental disorders is an approach that is said to guarantee good treatment outcomes, is easy to introduce to a community and will ease the burden on primary healthcare.

WHO had recommended that the general international guidelines of intervention in crisis settings who record the highest burden of mental illnesses needed to be adjusted to make mental health services a basic package of intervention in crisis and made readily available as an urgent need health response.

WHO recommended clinical management of mental health by medical specialists including psychiatric nurses, psychologists, and psychiatrists.

The sociotherapy study project is underway and currently treats 720 Congolese refugees and will be concluded in 2021. The overall outcome of the sociotherapy project expects to reduce symptoms of mental illnesses.

This model of sociotherapy had been proposed by WHO.WHO called it a community self-help and social support and their vision was to enable the introduction of relief activities which would encourage stress and mental illness triggers relief by learning new skills for all refugees including those with mental disorders.

The WHO model recommended is similar to the sociotherapy in that it offers what they recommended. WHO wanted interventions to offer basic mental care services treating the most common disorders found in crisis settings including depression, psychotic disorders, epilepsy, and even drug abuse.

The mental health interventions were expected to provide psychological interventions through cognitive behavioral therapy which is said to be suitable for people with prolonged mental illnesses in crisis situations.

WHO rationalized that it would promote the protection and promotion of the rights of people living with severe mental illnesses and allow follow up treatment in their communities and in their homes and even promote appropriate referrals for either mental treatment or stress relieving aid such provision of food, water, and shelter.

WHO is already leading by example by intensifying 2019 interventions on mental health in Bangladesh,Iraq,Jordan,Lebanon,Nigeria,South Sudan, Syria , Turkey,Ukrain,the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

WHO had stated that appropriate global response on mental illnesses would improve the outcomes of long –term development and especially in crisis situations and post-crisis situations for a crisis of conflict or disasters where mental health is addressed such as in Syria conflict, Sri Lanka 2004 tsunami, 2013 Philippines typhoon the mental health outcomes have been positive.

The Community-based Socio-therapy treatment mechanism in Congo banks on the people and their environment to recreate abandoned values, norms, relationships and enable disclosure and sharing of coping mechanisms and eventually come up with a treatment routine.

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