An international medical humanitarian organization, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), said on Monday there was a rise in the number of mental health patients at Nduta refugee camp, located in Tanzania’s western region of Kigoma.
The organization said in statement that the number of mental health patients in the camp sheltering about 127,000 Burundian refugees has doubled since June 2017.
The statement issued by MSF ahead of the World Mental Health Day on Tuesday, said currently an average of 400 people sought consultations for various mental health conditions at the Nduta camp.
“More than two thirds of the patients are female,” said the statement.
Kristi Payten, the Medical Coordinator for MSF in Tanzania, said the rise in the number of people seeking mental health attention was contributed by several factors, including the precarious situation that refugees have fled, poor living conditions at the camp and constant pressure for them to go back home.
“Uncertainty about the future and feelings of hopelessness contribute to the mental health conditions the refugees are suffering,” said Payten.
She added: “Mental health and psychosocial problems are often interconnected with challenges the refugees face. Accessing proper shelter, nutrition, healthcare and education are wanting.”
She said if these basic needs were not available, there could be a significant impact on the psychological wellbeing of the individual and the community in general.
The main symptoms among the patients seeking the treatment were related to depression, accounting for 30.1 percent of cases, followed by anxiety by 28.5 percent and trauma by 11 percent.
A section of the refugees also have severe mental disorders, which account for 7.3 percent of the mental health cases, said the statement.
Through its mental health program, MSF has conducted more than 40,070 psychological support sessions for individuals and families, said the statement.
Ursula Rincon, MSF’s Mental Health Activities Manager at the Nduta Camp, said the refugees have often suffered terrible situations before they arrived, stressing that most of them felt that their future was completely lost.
“Many are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. Psychological and emotional support are part of the medical care we are offering here,” said Rincon. Enditem