The provision for mental health care among most humanitarian organisations includes Psychological First Aid (PFA), which seeks to provide immediate, basic help to people experiencing acute trauma. While PFA serves a valid purpose, it cannot address the issues faced by refugees who have undergone prolonged periods of stress caused by war, violence and displacement. It is estimated that around 50% of refugees leaving war zones exhibit symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Furthermore, effective PFA relies on the possibility of referring patients with chronic problems to the mental health care infrastructure in the country where they are living. In reality, such infrastructure is either non-existent or does not have the resources to provide for refugees as well as citizens.
Meaningful and effective psychosocial care is built on a continuing relationship of trust and understanding between those who need care and those who provide it. That is why we employ experienced therapists with common language skills and the cultural awareness needed to connect with the people we work with. Through creating a regular schedule of sessions where refugees can come, be listened to and be understood, we are providing a dependable, safe space that can provide stability, hope, and respite from daily lives that are characterised by uncertainty and adversity.
RTI is making every effort to extend the reach of our methods beyond the organisation. Through training and support, we are building the capacity of other organisations and enhancing the quality of care that they can provide. Our hope is that our approach will one day be upheld as a global standard. We believe that providing this standard of care gives refugees the best chance of integrating into society and moving on with their lives.