Note: Since our project is split between a mental health needs assessment and literature review, we have written two sections for this blog. We are excited to update you on both.
Since our last blog, Playing to Live’s (PTL) Program Director, Alexis, and Program Manager, Cat, have spent more time in Uganda meeting with new and current contacts while visiting the four refugee settlements we are assessing for mental health resources and gaps. There have been inherent challenges to gathering information in a crisis situation, but our team could not have imagined the amount of positive feedback we have received from the refugee community, international and local organisations, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the Ugandan government. While respectively, basic needs are the top most priority in this emergency, we have been pleasantly surprised to see the eagerness for psychosocial services, and the recognition of the gaps and needs.
As mentioned, we have experienced challenges and successes through this process. The response to the refugee crisis is very large with a diversity of organisations on the ground, and due to the nature of this “rapid needs assessment”, we recognise that we will only skim the surface of reporting the complex need and the current response. That being said, we do believe that the information that we have gathered will provide much needed insight to all actors looking into the mental health crisis that accompanies the refugee crisis. Through this assessment, we have had the opportunity to interview a range of organisations’ staff, community volunteers, and refugees. Additionally, we have collected and organised data on the current programming available to refugee children and adolescents in the four selected refugee settlements.
At this stage, we are finalising the draft version of our report. Soon we will be sending this draft back to the collaborating organisations and interviewees for confirmation and approval of information. Alexis has returned to Uganda to present the report to representatives of the interviewed NGOs, UNHCR, and the Office of Prime Minister for final approval and discussion of results. We are excited to provide you the results of these meetings soon.
In addition to the needs assessment, we have been hard at work writing a background review of the South Sudanese context and a literature review of best practices in mental health for refugee children and adolescents. We hope that this information will give significance to the need of mental health services as well as a foundation for informed next steps. We are in the final stages of editing our findings, and we have provided our abstract below to give more background to what we have written.
This literature review aims to identify best practices for para-professionals providing mental health and psychosocial care for adolescents and children in internally displaced and refugee settings. The literature review accompanies a mental health needs assessment in Uganda’s South Sudanese refugee response which was implemented from March-November 2017. Literature was compiled to provide a background specific to the South Sudanese context, culture, history of conflict, Uganda’s refugee policy, and context to mental health within the conflict and South Sudanese culture. The review was performed to investigate best practices in mental health. There were 4,577 journals initially selected based on exclusion and inclusion criteria using four different academic search engines and grey literature was added, but after an abstract review and a full review of the literature, 28 journals were selected. Information was extracted from the 28 articles including: models of care delivery; program interventions; research methodology and tools used; intervention outcomes; limitations and barriers; types of care, participants, and location; additional findings; and future suggestions. Reviewers used an assessment tool to assess the quality of each article. A discussion about the overall findings and conclusion discusses what can be learned from the literature reviewed.
We would like to thank our dedicated interns who have been the backbone to both of these assessments.
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