October 10 is World Mental Health Day and this year the theme is ‘psychological first aid’ (PFA). Kituo cha Sheria through our Forced Migration Programme(FMP) is part of the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support working group and we want to ask ourselves what support we can offer to those in distress.
Crisis events involving exposure to trauma and sudden loss occur in all communities of the world. Working with the refugee community provides a unique opportunity for offering assistance. Unlike the host community, who may have various options and support systems to run to, the situation is different for refugees. Refugees have to deal with the trauma that caused their flight as well as the stress of everyday living in the country of asylum, where they have little social support. Upon arrival, refugees hope for a new beginning, help and a place to settle down.
However, with the changes currently happening in the sector, here in Kenya, anxiety and confusion have overwhelmed them again. The ongoing repatriation process at Dadaab refugee camp and the disbandment of the Department of Refugee Affairs have had adverse effects on the refugees.
As we celebrate the World Mental Health Day, psychological first aid can help reduce psychological distress among refugees. PFA means that everyone has a role to play. Using its three principles of “look, listen and link”, anyone who comes to contact with refugees can actually offer support.
PFA ensures that refugees receive basic support and that those who need further care are referred to specialized services. Refugees who suffer from psychological distress and mental disorders can benefit from receiving PFA from professionals and the general public as well.
Therefore, there is room for you and I to make a difference.
Kituo cha Sheria
We Care for Justice