ICRC Reports show many South Sudan suffer from mental health

Oct 11, 2020(Nyamilepedia) — Latest reports by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), a humanitarian institution based in Geneva that has been heavily involved in South Sudan, indicate that many South Sudan people struggle with depression, anxiety and other mental illness caused by long term conflict and violence.

AN ICRC DELEGATE ENGAGES WITH AN ARMED GROUP TO EXPLAIN THE IMPORTANCE OF PROTECTING HEALTH CARE PERSONNEL AND HOPSPITALS.(Photo credit: Courtesy image/ICRC)

AN ICRC DELEGATE ENGAGES WITH AN ARMED GROUP TO EXPLAIN THE IMPORTANCE OF PROTECTING HEALTH CARE PERSONNEL AND HOPSPITALS.(Photo credit: Courtesy image/ICRC)

The ICRC has reported that these people hardly receive support, especially in rural areas, due to lack of these services in the area or the taboo that often surrounds mental health needs prevent people to access care.

Fiona Allan, the mental health and psychosocial support manager for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in South Sudan emphasized on the importance of mental health adding that many people suffer in silence because of fear, shame, and misconceptions about mental health.

“Mental health is just as important as physical health and more needs to be done to ensure that people have access to the care they need, and that they don’t face stigma for seeking help”. She sad.

She added that people should know that mental health problems are common, especially after years of war, and it is ok to seek help no matter the cause of the mental distress

In more than 1,200 patients supported with Mental health and psychosocial support services seen by the ICRC in South Sudan this year, most had symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Thimon Ozinga Ismail, ICRC’s mental health and psychosocial support field officer in Juba noted that South Sudanese fear that talking about mental issues can spoil the family history, the community or the clan history.

“There is also fear that people will think they are wicked, mad, or that if they raise these issues, it would bring violence to their family.” Thimon said.

Anthony Jobaze Atimanyo, a resident of Nimule in Eastern Equatoria State who lost a leg and had issue accepting himself explained that it is hard to go through the whole ordeal, adding that it was hard to the extent he attempted to take his life.

With lots of counselling and support from people close to him, he was able to overcome the situation. 

The ICRC is working closely with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare to expand mental health and psychosocial support services in South Sudan. 

This year, ICRC has trained 70 health care workers to be able to identify common mental health issues and provide basic psychological support and counselling so that such services can be integrated into overall patient care.

ICRC call on people who experience symptoms of stress, anxiety, fear and who feel that they need support to contact any of these ICRC-supported health facility across the country as follow:

  • Western Bar-elghazal: Wau Teaching Hospital and Hai Masna, Ngo Ku and Ngo Dakala primary health care centres
  • Jonglei state: Akobo County Hospital, Karam and Duk-Padiet primary health care centres
  • Equatorias: Juba Military Hospital and Juba Physical Rehabilitation Centre.

Globally, according to the World Health Organization, more than one person in five in conflict-affected areas lives with some form of mental health problems, from mild depression and anxiety to post-traumatic stress disorder.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is a humanitarian institution based in Geneva, Switzerland, and a three-time Nobel Prize Laureate.

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