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Improving the mental health of Burundian refugees suffering from PTSD

2017 till 2019
Mahama, Rwanda

Context

Mens Sana wants to make psychological health and life balance a priority in refugee camps, enabling refugees to rebuild their mental health.

At the heart of the project is a method developed by Professor Yori Gidron for the rapid relief of people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): “Memory Structure Intervention & Vagal breathing”, which has already been successfully tested several times in disaster and war zones. This method, based on vagal breathing, the formulation of a story, writing and repetition of this story, helps the patient. The idea is to give them back control of their memory so that their experiences no longer dominate them.

The method has the advantage of not requiring the presence of a therapist. Mens Sana relies on local structures that are directly linked to the refugees. It trains the local staff, as well as some representatives of the target population, in order to give them the capacity to treat patients with neuroscientific tools, and to easily reproduce the method.

Beneficiaries

Any refugee suffering from post-traumatic stress, as well as their direct entourage.
A study carried out among Burundian refugee students in Rwanda showed that 51.5% of them suffered from severe symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

Objective

Mens Sana makes mental health a priority in refugee camps. The project aims to give refugees the opportunity to rebuild their mental health and to be able to benefit from the enormous diversity and potential of the camps. It is turning burden into opportunity and despair into hope.
To achieve this, the project aims to train refugees and NGO staff in scientifically tested methods to prevent and treat PTSD within the refugee community.

Results

2018: Training mission in Kigali _ Rwanda, in support of Burundian refugees in Mahama camp: the mission enabled the training of 22 Burundian refugee students & 22 Rwandan students from the University of Kibungo (psychology students), as well as 12 staff members of Maison Shalom International, another partner of the Foundation. Several refugees also benefited from direct treatment by Professor Gidron.

2019: Training mission to Cyprus _ training of 41 participants, members of the Hope for Children NGO & the Cyprus Refugee Council, active with refugees below 18 years old.

2019: Mission to Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville and DRC with the Well being For All NGO.

Testimonials

L.A.

« Chaque réfugié dans un camp est perçu comme un cocon ; une forme qui ne sort pas du lot, qui ne saute pas à l’œil et que peu de personnes regardent de près. En soutenant ce cocon et en le poussant vers son potentiel, ce cocon se transforme en papillon. Un papillon sort du lot, il saute a l’œil et est admiré. »
Read the full testimony

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