Heartland Alliance International (HAI) has more than three decades of experience providing trauma-informed mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) to individuals, families, and communities that 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.
Poverty, unemployment, and traumatic life events are all risk factors for 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 and psychosocial support services:
- In 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a Mental Health Action Plan that highlighted the need to treat mental disorders and attend to daily mental health well-being.
- In September 2015, the UN adopted the Sustainable Development Agenda, which included mental health as a target of the third goal: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.”
HAI’s MHPSS programming uses a trauma-informed approach that recognizes that the effects of trauma are multi-faceted; are mediated by individual, family, and community factors; 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 also recognizes that trauma has impacts on family, community, and society and that effective trauma-informed approaches need to consider interventions at these levels. HAI utilizes a strengths-based approach to its services and seeks to build national capacity in order to ensure program sustainability. HAI receives generous support for its MHPSS programs from donors including the United States government, the European Union, the United Nations, and private foundations.
HAI emphasizes two key elements in our trauma-informed work:
- Direct MHPSS service programs, which provide marginalized populations and individuals, families, and communities exposed to conflict or complex humanitarian emergencies with the support necessary for healing
- Capacity-building of mental health systems through training, education, advocacy, and collaboration with professionals, paraprofessionals, community members, institutions, and government entities to respond effectively and compassionately to the needs of affected individuals and communities