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SPHN_R4HSSS Invitation to Mental Health in Syria Workshop

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Meeting ID: 884 5035 9345
Passcode: 885142

The Syria Public Health Network, and the “Research for Health System Strengthening in northern Syria (R4HSSS) project at King’s College London would like to invite you to participate in this closed workshop on mental health in the Syrian conflict (with a focus on substance abuse and self-harm).

More than a decade of the Syrian conflict has had a profound impact on the health of Syrians with more than a half million deaths, more than half of the country’s pre-conflict population are displaced, and a fragmented health system in the different areas of control. Almost all health indicators, including mortality and morbidity indicators, are expected to be on the decline since the start of the conflict.

The conflict also had a severe impact on the mental health in the Syrian communities. It is estimated that more than 60% of the population suffered from PTSD and severe mental disorders. However, the prevalence and the scale of these mental health disorders is yet to be researched. There have been many reports by local agencies and NGOs on self-harm and substance abuse. The Forensic medicine in Damascus reported 51 cases of sucide in the government held areas in 2020 alone. In the same year, the Idlib Health Directorate reported an increase of self-harm cases in opposition held areas.

Local and international humanitarian health efforts focused on trauma care in the first few years of the conflict. The humanitarian response then included a mental health focus through community based psychosocial interventions mainly. The availability and coverage of advanced mental health care has been limited due to shortages in mental health specialists inside Syria as well as lack of adequate resources. The disorders of substance abuse and self-harm received little attention with many cultural, societal, and institutional barriers to identifying the scale of the problem let alone initiating appropriate responses. There have however been some good practices in local and international levels in the field of mental health using community based interventions, family interventions, specialized care, and referral mechanisms. These interventions can be used to contribute to the response of various mental health disorders including substance abuse and self-harm.

We will provide participants with a background brief summarising key points for discussion as well as recommend pre-reading to ensure that the discussion is of the granularity required to make it useful.

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