Working with partners in the Philippines, AmeriCares has introduced training to expand health workers’ skills in the areas of mental health and psychosocial support, malnutrition surveillance and disaster preparedness skills, to help create a foundation for a healthy future.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is a significant contributor to the global burden of disease, particularly among people who have experienced war, deprivation or disaster. Furthermore WHO goes on to estimate that three-quarters of the world’s neuropsychiatric disorders are in low-income or low-middle income countries, where mental health services are often given a low priority because of limited health care resources.
To help communities and individuals in the Philippines heal from the psychological consequences of the disaster, we are working with partners who are providing training so health workers can recognize signs of mental illness in survivors.
In the first six months, our training has given more than 1,300 health workers and community leaders the skills to identify, treat and refer survivors needing mental health and psychosocial support. Such support will lower survivors’ risk of depression, post-traumatic stress and other mental health conditions.
In regions where the storm wiped out crops and damaged farmlands, survivors not only lost important food sources but primary income from farming as well, increasing the likelihood that families would not have enough food. We have trained health workers and equipped them with tools and equipment to identify and monitor nutritional needs in order to provide appropriate nutritional support and related services, particularly among children who are physically the most vulnerable to malnutrition.
As our recovery efforts continue, we are developing programs to help communities be better prepared for emergencies and mitigate the effects of future disasters. This forward-looking work is crucial because the islands of the Philippines are located in a typhoon belt and are buffeted by severe storms every year.