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Mental Health

We believe there is no health without mental health. We provide mental health and psychosocial support for healthcare workers and the communities they serve.

1 BILLION…

…that’s the number of people who are currently affected by mental health issues – among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide. One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives.

In low-resource contexts, the treatment and care gap is 90% – meaning that only 10% of people in need of mental healthcare are able to access it. Even in high-resource contexts, many people – especially marginalized communities – do not have access to treatment. In the U.S., for example, where more than 43 million people are living with mental illness, over half – and among people of color, 70% – cannot access the care they need.

And, over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a marked impact on people’s mental health.

Venezuelan children at a health clinic in Colombia finding ways to express their feelings.
Americares Free Clinic of Stamford, Wellness Center ‘Stress Management Class’ with stress reduction teacher and patient/student.
“Good mental health is absolutely fundamental to overall health and well-being.”

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Nurse Practicioner Debbie consults with Lucille, a patient at Hope Clinic and Care Center in Appleton, Wisconsin, November 10, 2021. Lucille is 18 and suffers from depression. Her parents didn't believe or support her getting the mental health care she needed. Now that she is on her own, she is able to get the care and medication she needs at Hope Clinic. She has spent time in a psych ward and credits Hope Clinic staff and medication for helping her life a full and quality life. (Photo: Americares/Jeff Kennel)(Photo: Americares/Jeff Kennel) .
Nurse Practitioner Debbie consults with Lucille, a patient at Hope Clinic and Care Center in Appleton, Wisconsin, where she is able to get the mental health care and medication she needs.

Our Online Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Courses are Now Available. Register and Get Started at: https://learn.americares.org/

Mental Health Training for Health Workers

Register Now at learn.americares.org

During the coronavirus pandemic, health workers are on the front lines of a global crisis, putting themselves at risk—physically, mentally and emotionally—every day. Health workers are anxious, burned out and concerned about exposing loved ones to COVID. And if left untreated, chronic stress can lead to severe mental health conditions.

In this challenging time, Americares goal is simple—to protect the health and well-being of health workers so they can continue to provide their lifesaving work. Our curriculum includes evidence-based theories and practices such as:

graphic of Mental Health Training

Psychological first aid

The basics of how and when to provide psychological first aid to people impacted by a traumatic event.

Cognitive-based techniques

Strategies for managing stress related to the overwhelming nature of the pandemic that can be applied to self-care routine —and to patients’.

Somatic experience strategies

Define sleep hygiene and review
the consequences of altered sleep patterns—and recognize the signs and symptoms that occur in the absence of sleep hygiene.

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Implicit bias mitigation techniques

Learn about stigma, discrimination and implicit bias in the age of COVID-19.

Learn More

For more information about scheduling—or Americares mental health programming at large—please email us at mentalhealth@americares.org.

Mental Health on the Front Lines of Crisis

A disaster can be deadly as it destroys houses, hospitals and infrastructure. It also brings trauma and stress to many people in the community, especially health workers. Mental as well as physical health must be addressed early in the response or the long term consequences can damage lives long after the crisis has past. In order to meet this enormous global need, Americares has provided: capacity building, training, technical advising and clinical care.

Working where the risk is great…..

Building Health Center Resilience in California

Americares  recently developed a cutting-edge Disaster Risk Reduction and Mental Health integrative program that offers psychological debriefing, organizational resilience support and training to health centers in California communities at risk for disaster. Participating health centers receive psychosocial support  and technical advice from Americares mental health and preparedness experts. And staff at participating health centers learn how to build resilience and address provider fatigue, the mental health of providers and disaster survivors as well as overall preparedness.

Communities in crisis….

Support for Mental Health Workers in Puerto Rico

“This workshop gave me time to rest and find myself again. The routine these days is very intense: work, home, family—and many times, we forget about ‘being.’ The team reflections gave me peace of mind.”

Workshop Participant
Americares holds a training for health workers in Barceloneta, Puerto Rico, to better cope with stress and trauma.
Americares holds a training for health workers in Barceloneta, Puerto Rico, to better cope with stress and trauma.

When repeated earthquakes rocked Puerto Rico over weeks in January 2020, local health officials asked Americares to conduct mental health training sessions for health workers. And when the coronavirus pandemic reached the island, Americares pivoted and began training local health workers in COVID-19-related mental health services.

Americares training and education gives health workers the knowledge and skills to help them stay safe, calm and healthy—and treat patients during the pandemic.

Our training helps providers identify and manage their patients’ COVID-19-related mental health concerns, while also giving health workers resources to identify and address their own mental health needs. Topics include grief and loss, Psychological First Aid, Difficult Issues in the Workplace and stigma and discrimination associated with COVID-19. Americares has also provided one-on-one crisis management support sessions for health workers who need additional support after the training, with referrals for longer-term support if needed.

Facing wartime trauma…

Mental Health in the Syria Civil Conflict

After providing health care amid bombing and violence, health workers can experience stress and trauma, putting them at risk for illness. And providers caring for patients who have experienced violence or stress are at higher risk of vicarious trauma. Americares trains medical staff caring for Syrians in Syria and in bordering countries to recognize and alleviate signs of stress in themselves and their co-workers.

In Jordan, Americares worked with the Royal Health Awareness Society to add mental health services to an existing chronic disease program. Now Syrian refugees—and Jordanians—can better manage their stress and, consequently, their chronic health conditions.

Economic and social upheaval…

Clinical Mental Health Services

In Colombia and El Salvador, Americares provides clinical mental health services for our patients. Our providers treat a variety of health issues, including anxiety, stress and loss.

At Americares Colombia clinics, Venezuelans driven by violence, instability and extreme food and medicine shortages face risks to their mental well-being. Our providers ensure patients receive mental health support—even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. From August 16, 2019 through October 1, 2021 Americares conducted more than 400,000 patient consultations. Approximately 16 percent of those were focused on mental health issues, such as PTSD, depression and anxiety.

Resilient disaster recovery…

Mental Health Support in the Philippines

And in the Philippines, Americares trained thousands of health workers to provide psychosocial support services to survivors facing trauma and loss after a deadly typhoon in 2013. We also provide psychotherapeutic medications to local health departments and include mental health support in our own emergency responses. 

Mental health in the Pandemic..

Mental Health Training in Malawi

The increasing economic insecurity and the higher rate of suicide in Malawi during the Pandemic were strong indicators of a need to develop a mental health response.  In a country that only has 5 psychiatrists to serve 16 million people and where only a handful of nurses working at the only public-funded psychiatric hospital have mental health training, a needs assessment revealed a significant need for a mental health and psychosocial training initiative. The team established training of the trainers for “mental health specialists” followed by training at district, health center, and community levels of 106 health workers, 80 community leaders and 30 health workers. 

The training is very important to myself, as an individual, and to my family. I want to help myself and then help the community.” — a training participant

Two participants in the mental health training session
Participants at a mental health training session engaged in a learning activity

Americares has a long history of supporting mental health, particularly after a disaster.

You can’t fix what you can’t find.  And it gets worse if you don’t even know where to look. After a disaster, you can clearly see the homes and health centers that have been damaged or destroyed and start the work of repairing or replacing them.  But a whole other world of devastation often remains unseen.  As Gopal Aryal, a community organizer in Nepal said after the 2015 earthquake, “People see broken houses, they don’t see broken hearts.”

That’s why in Puerto Rico, Jordan, Texas, Nepal, Japan, Philippines and other hard hit communities around the world, Americares responded to the mental as well as the physical health needs of people in crisis. Working with local communities, we strive to enhance pre-existing health care systems and train health care workers to identify signs of stress and trauma after a disaster and then work to assess, collaborate, and ultimately co-create programs that are sustainable, culturally competent, resilient and effectively serve the community.

After the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan, Americares launched a series of mental health programs, including a gardening project in the Fukushima Prefecture to improve the psychological and emotional well-being of survivors. “They are enjoying moments of laughter and quiet moments listening to the breeze, cicadas, and birds. It’s wonderful to see before our very eyes what a difference we’re making.”…Americares country director in Japan.

A line of young children plant flowers with plastic shovels and smiles.
Community gardening with children in Japan after the Triple Disaster.

When a devastating earthquake rocked Nepal in 2015, Americares worked with local organizations to create a drama-based theater program to reduce isolation and destigmatize mental health issues. And in the Philippines, Americares trained thousands of health workers to provide mental health services to survivors facing trauma and loss after a deadly typhoon in 2013.

Today, Americares is committed to increasing access to care and treatment, so patients around the world can lead healthy, productive lives. Just last year, Americares provided enough medicine to fill nearly 668,000 prescriptions for behavioral health patients around the world.

Helping Communities Heal