In Ethiopia's Tigray region, Humanity & Inclusion has identified an urgent need for mental health and psychosocial support as the crisis continues.
People are isolated, facing food insecurity and have spent months living under the constant threat of violence. Stress levels are high, and the population is experiencing widespread psychological trauma.
More than 5,400 children have lost or been separated from their families. With nearly 2 million people forced to flee their homes, shelters are often overcrowded and there have been increased reports of sexual violence against women and girls. Unaccompanied children and girls with disabilities are at even greater risk of harm. The UN Population Fund estimates that more than 22,500 victims of sexual violence will seek clinical support this year. The number of unreported assaults remains unknown, as widespread fear and stigmatization prevent many from coming forward.
At this time, only a fraction of the region’s care services is active or able to respond. Many have been forced to close indefinitely due to the crisis and others are overwhelmed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Along with rehabilitation and inclusive initiatives, Humanity & Inclusion has listed mental health support and protection among the top priorities for its emergency intervention plan in Tigray. Mental health specialists will be mobilized to access people in remote and isolated areas as well as dozens of camps housing internally displaced people. Teams will provide psychosocial support and refer individuals in need of additional care, including those with new or pre-existing disabilities, to appropriate resources. Group therapy sessions will also be implemented alongside recreational activities such as sewing, beading and art therapies to improve mental health and wellness.
“In times of crisis, people are in dire need of mental health and psychosocial support. Emergencies eliminate sources of support and care that are normally available and they increase the risk of developing psychological distress while also amplifying pre-existing ones. Crises like this can have long-term impacts on the development and well-being of an entire population, create psychosocial disabilities, and overall, negatively impact physical health and social cohesion. HI’s mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) activities promote optimal mental health and social participation which takes into account the social and psychological aspects of support and access to medical care.” — Chiara Beguin, mental health specialist for Humanity & Inclusion