• Interagency Standing Committee Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings (IASC) state that ‘the psychosocial and social impacts of emergencies may be acute in the short term, but they can also undermine the long-term mental health and psychosocial well-being of the affected population.
• Data and field experience from ongoing IRC programs show that many survivors of sexual violence (SV) experience substantially reduced ability to function, including in performing basic tasks and activities. Survivors also describe mental health (MH) problems including mood disorders, anxiety, withdrawal, and stigmatization, yet services to address these symptoms are currently unavailable.
After almost two decades of conflict and brutal sexual violence, high levels of trauma, depression and anxiety hinder recovery of many women and girls in Eastern DRC. However, mental health services are not available to the majority of conflict-affected populations in the DRC. This pilot will demonstrate how a mental health therapy can be provided in an efficient, cost-effective manner through the primary health care system and will achieve learning on how to make mental health services available more widely for survivors of gender-based violence, leading to improved healing and recovery
Innovation Phases Description:
This project responds to an important gap with a specific therapy and structure, adapted to the DRC context and that can be implemented to scale in resource-poor humanitarian contexts by a broad range of individuals, including those with minimal education. The project will test the feasibility of this embedded model with the vision of ultimately diffusing it via the Ministry of Public Health to health structures across DRC.
An important level of demand for, and acceptance of, MH services is demonstrated by the high level of participation in CPT carried out as part of the impact evaluation in the DRC, indicating that making the therapy more widely available at community-level would benefit traumatised populations more generally.
CPT allows for more rapid recovery for survivors of SV and thus positive social outcomes. Integrating CPT into the primary health care system allows for the provision of targeted MH services through health workers, with the potential to make this therapy available to a large number of beneficiaries. The health focus is a key element of the humanitarian focus of this proposal, as health services often continue even in unstable environments, and even when suspension is unavoidable, they are commonly the first to recommence service provision following a humanitarian crisis.
Honorine, a 26 year old nurse, and Marie Claire, a 31 year old nutritionist, are providers of Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)* in Bugobe, Eastern Congo. The two women come from different backgrounds and have different specialties and responsibilities.View
By the end of the Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) project with the Humanitarian Innovation Fund in January 2015, a total of 117 women survivors of sexual violence (SV) with high and persistent trauma symptoms completed 12 sessions of CPT within 13 groups, led by local trained nursesView
Nearing the end of the implementation of Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), the IRC South Kivu Psychosocial Team sat down with four of South Kivu’s Provincial Mental Health Program Coordination’s CPT focal points to see how the programme was going.View
Piloted in April of 2014, cognitive processing therapy (CPT) is distinctively different from the traditional methods of treating survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).View
A functioning case management system is the foundation of the provision of specialized mental health services for survivors of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).View
A male nurse, Jean de Dieu, sits amongst eight women who have gathered for a group therapy session in a hospital room in South Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).View
Since the training of the service providers that took place in April, each of the seven health centres that are part of this pilot started a CPT group for survivors.View
Over eight days in April, 22 new health workers in South Kivu, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were trained in Cognitive Processing Therapy by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the University of Washington.View
The International Rescue Committee works with community based organisations because experience has shown that these grassroots organisations are deeply embedded in, and trusted by, their local communities, and survivors feel comfortable speaking to women within this context.View
A person suffering from trauma can struggle to deal with memories of a traumatic event and often has difficulty understanding and processing what has happened. Survivors of sexual violence often avoid thinking about or dealing with difficult memories because this can lead to intense feelings of fear or shame.View
A recent study conducted by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in partnership with Johns Hopkins University found that providing survivors of sexual violence with an innovative form of group therapy called Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) resulted in a dramatic decrease in overall trauma symptoms.View
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