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Being in charge of disseminating the Problem Management Plus (PM+) methodology has been a rich and enlightening journey. When we started end of 2017, in collaboration with WHO, to identify humanitarian actors who could take up this methodology to provide psychological support to adults in distress across different contexts, we didn’t expect there would be so much enthusiasm and interest to share and duplicate further.

Choosing humanitarian actors to work with

We had to go through a process of careful selection of humanitarian actors who would have the right knowledge and expertise to be able to train colleagues in their organisation to mainstream the methodology and cascade these efforts to alleviate psychological suffering of people across various contexts. Problem Management Plus (PM+) is a session-based trans-diagnostic psychological intervention, developed by WHO, that can be delivered by non-specialist lay-providers to adults impaired by distress. It requires specialist supervision preferably from clinical psychologists experienced in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

For our training in Cairo in March 2018, we had 18 trainers/clinical supervisors completing this master training and 13 program managers who were trained so they could support development and implementation of the activities in their organisations. This training was the catalyst for nine humanitarian organisations and independent consultants to rollout PM+ across the globe.

Following this, a number of workers were trained and supervised on PM+, delivering psychological services to populations in need and affected by crisis in Iraq, Ethiopia, Jordan, Turkey, Honduras, Guatemala, Greece, Syria, Jordan, Pakistan and Colombia.

PM+ around the world: Ethiopia, Syria and the future

In front of this success, and thanks to drastic costs savings, we were able to organise another unplanned training in May 2019 led by two of the participants trained in our first event in Cairo, for another 16 clinical supervisors from another 15 organizations.

The PM+ interventions were quickly taken up and adapted by organisations in various parts of the world. PM+ helpers in Syria reported that they saw very positive results with PM+, even though they are living in a war zone and in Ethiopia, PM+ supervisors found the techniques very well adapted to populations living in refuge settings, as it supports in stress management and is easy to contextualize.

While the project was a great success in disseminating the interventions well beyond the initial expectations, a large part of the world population still faces very difficult situations of hardship, conflicts and affected by various humanitarian crisis, and the need largely supersedes the surge capacity to respond to people in psychological distress.

From our side, in Terre des Hommes (Tdh), we will continue to promote and use the methodology to accompany parents and youth in need of support, with a particular focus of Rohingyas populations in Bangladesh.

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