In the beggining of 2019 it was estimated that around 132 million people would need humanitarian assistance and in fact, throughout the year, we witnessed aproximatly 70 million people (higher number than during World War II) being forced to leave their homes, to reshape their meaning of life, managing concerns, hurts and forgiveness, reinventing themselves with (or without) tolerance, trying to assimilate experiences with no dignity – as rape, hunger, deprivation of love, food or protection – and yet another year has passed and mental health has not been a priority in humanitarian assistance programs.
It was urgent to reflect on how to break these cycles and this happened last week at the International Summit on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support taking place in the Netherlands from 7 to 10 October, where I attended with association “beHuman”.
One of Minister Sigrid Kaag’s aims at this summit was undoubtedly to bring together stories from the field, such as John, another humanitarian worker suffering from “compassion fatigue”, Hussein, who remains aggressive in the displaced Lebanese camp or Asma who is another child, a daughter of rape by an ISIS member and therefore abandoned in the tent of hundreds of orphans in Iraq; The expertise and research of Humanitarian Agencies such as UN, WHO, IOM or OECD, policy makers from Lebanon, Uganda, Sweden and Switzerland, United Kingdom, India and many others have come to an agreement to create a basic Mental Health package to be integrated into humanitarian interventions supporting current suffering and supporting future generations to be healthier, less traumatized
Looking closely, mental health is one of the biggest public, social and economic health crises today, more than 300 million people worldwide with depression or the 800,000 people dying of suicide each year (the second leading cause of death ages 15-29 worldwide) numbers that speak for themselves and impact the societies in which we live. An emotionally ill society is a dehumanized, intolerant, insecure, angry, and very selfish society. Portugal, for example, is one of the countries with the highest rate of depression and antidepressant use in Europe.
Mental health is a basic human right, such as food, water or shelter, and it is urgent to be integrated into crisis interventions (and not only).
For a more humane world, this year Minister Kaag and her team have been able to engage experts, research and knowledge and policy makers to create and implement the basic mental health program in the 4 corners of the world.
With a basic and essential package of mental health and psycho-social action, there is a budget, a plan of activities and intervention in various sectors, so that we can once again believe that it is possible to interrupt the crazy world we live in and have healthier societies with hope and flexibility, tolerance and compassion, generosity, more love and a sense of purpose not only for survivors, but for humanitarian teams and their families, governments, their societies and future generations. For the year, it will be the French government to host the same group of agents and make the state of play.