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International Community Should Better Integrate Mental Health Care Into Humanitarian Responses

“October 10 commemorates World Mental Health Day and is observed, in part, to raise public awareness about mental health issues. One matter that deserves critical attention is better integrating mental health care into global humanitarian responses,” Curt Goering, executive director of the Center for Victims of Torture, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “For refugee torture and war trauma survivors, especially in places with few or no mental health resources, the consequences of neglecting their mental health needs can be severe and long lasting,” because the symptoms can “make it difficult for the survivor to care for themselves and their families,” he states, noting the Syrian crisis alone is predicted to produce more than five million refugees by the end of 2014 if not resolved.

“Yet, even after such terrible experiences, torture survivor rehabilitation programs are effective in helping survivors heal from their trauma and rebuild meaningful lives of dignity,” Goering writes. “The international community should use World Mental Health Day as an opportunity to demonstrate their support for torture survivor rehabilitation by increasing their contributions to the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture,” he states, adding, “Let us begin today, and continue every day, bringing knowledge, awareness, and advocacy to better integrating mental health care into global humanitarian responses” (10/9).