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Mental Health on the Front Line in Refugee Situations Syria | 10 October 2013
Often times during periods of conflict, humanitarian aid is provided to refugees in the form of food, water, and treatment of visible injuries. What gets the least concern at first becomes the mental health of refugees. However it is necessary to immediately address mental health, as mental health disorders can impair a refugee’s ability to be economically productive and can compromise their physical health. With the current Syrian conflict, more than 2 million refugees have flooded into surrounding countries after witnessing bombings and other terrible events. More and more refugees are suffering from depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress without access to medication or treatment. A woman with schizophrenia, for example, had been on medication before the crisis but has since lapsed and now believes she is carrying 11 babies. Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and other non-governmental agencies have set up mental health clinics to treat refugee populations facing this problem; however, it is difficult to diagnose mental health as one of the most vulnerable populations, young men, are isolated and lack social support. Further efforts need to be made to ensure all refugees have access to mental health treatment.