Trauma-Informed Mental Health

Heartland Alliance International (HAI) has more than three decades of experience providing trauma-informed mental health care, including support to individuals and communities who have been exposed to political oppression, torture, war, conflict, and gender-based violence. HAI has expertise developing tailored interventions for primary health care systems; addressing child, adolescent, and women’s mental health; and developing specialized torture treatment programs.

The Need

Poverty, unemployment, and traumatic life events increase the risk of mental illness. Ongoing conflicts in many countries around the world have led to a rise in forced displacement and migration, which exacerbate mental health concerns and further limit access to care.

  • While global rates of depression and anxiety are estimated at 3.9% and 4.4%, respectively, in crisis-affected populations, 15-20% of survivors develop depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); and 3-4% develop severe mental disorders that affect their ability to function and survive
  • In low and middle-income countries, 76% to 85% of people with severe mental disorders receive no treatment

In recent years, increased attention has been placed on prioritizing mental health care:

HAI’s approach to trauma-informed care recognizes that the effects of trauma and violence are multi-faceted and can impact individuals’ psychological well-being, physical health, spiritual beliefs and ability to care for themselves and their families and participate in community life. HAI’s integrated approach includes health services, mental health care, and case management support.

HAI emphasizes two key elements in its trauma-informed work:

  • Direct care programs, which provide survivors of trauma and violence with the support necessary for healing
  • Capacity-building of mental health systems through training, education, and collaboration with professionals, paraprofessionals, community members, institutions, and government entities to respond effectively and compassionately to the needs of trauma-affected communities