Other than physiological health issues, people in Marawi, particularly those caught in the crossfire between government forces and terrorist groups, need assistance in coping with their experience of being displaced due to the crisis.

In response, the Department of Health has pledged to send a psychosocial support team that will assist in training health professionals and workers in the Lanao del Sur city, specifically at the Amai Pakpak Medical Center, to handle debriefing of displaced families.

Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said the agency will coordinate with other civic and non-government organizations to provide psychosocial health services to the victims of conflict.

She stressed that training the health professionals in areas that have been identified is of utmost importance since they are the ones familiar with the native dialect and culture, which is critical for effective debriefing.

At present, the Mindanao State University Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) is conducting psychosocial support training of volunteers courtesy of its Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Institute for Peace and Development.

Dr Alma Maranda, a member of the psychosocial support group in Iligan, confirmed they have seen signs of psychiatric problems among evacuees.

Partner agencies include the Ranaw Bai Mindanao Emergency Response Network, Non-violent Peaceforce, Islamic Medical Association Philippines, Health Organization for Mindanao, Anak Mindanao and the Victory Christian Fellowship.

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) highlighted depression as the theme for the World Health Day celebration.

The WHO estimates that depression affects about 1 in 5 people within conflict areas and that people suffer high levels of acute and chronic stress when it comes to occupation, uncertainty and violence.

Furthermore, WHO states that 10 percent of the global burden of disease is related to mental health illnesses.

Likewise, “mental health and psychosocial well-being benefits from a sense of normalcy, facilitation of community mobilisation and self-help,” said WHO.

Addressing mental and psychosocial well being would include attention to general basic services, community support, psychological first aid, embedding mental health care within education curriculum, and access to specialist care and medication for people with severe mental disorders. MIMS

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