Problem Management Plus (PM+)
Scalable interventions with Syrian refugees
Providing mental health care to refugees is a great challenge in countries receiving high numbers of refugees. This challenge is also felt by the countries hosting refugees from Syria. The STRENGTHS project outlines the steps to integrate psychological interventions for common mental disorders.
The Middle East, North Africa and Europe host millions of Syrian refugees. A sudden increase in the number of refugees challenges the health systems. Even the most robust health system will struggle to provide sufficient care to a high influx of patients with mental health concerns. This is the case in all host countries to a greater or smaller extent.
Limited access to mental health services for Syrian refugees
There are many barriers to providing sufficient care. Across the Middle East, there is a lack of trained specialists who can provide high-quality care. In Europe, there are not enough Arabic-speaking mental health care professionals. This limits access to mental health services. Part of the solution could be scalable psychological interventions for common mental disorders.
The STRENGTHS-project trains Syrian refugees to provide scalable psychological interventions to fellow Syrian refugees
What is a scalable intervention?
Scalable interventions are sometimes called ‘low-intensity interventions’. This means that the intervention has been modified to use fewer resources compared to conventional psychological treatments by specialists. Aspects are changed to make them feasible in communities that do not have many mental health professionals. Creating more accessible mental health care that reaches more people in need.
What is Problem Management Plus?
Problem Management Plus is a low-intensity intervention and has been developed by the World Health Organization (WHO). The programmes are short and can be provided or supported by trained helpers who are not mental health professionals. The interventions target symptoms of common mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder.
More information about the project
In the STRENGTHS project, 15 partners in 8 countries worked together to enable Syrian refugees to provide brief psychological support to other Syrian refugees. The project studied scalable psychological interventions for common mental health disorders and outlined the steps needed to integrate these interventions into healthcare systems.
VU Amsterdam led the project. ARQ International was one of the partners responsible for disseminating knowledge about the evidence base for PM+ programmes and how to implement and sustain them. The aim is to engage with new stakeholders and health systems to scale up further the implementation of the programmes across Europe and beyond.
For more information on this project, watch the video below or visit the project website.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme Societal Challenges under Grant Agreement No 733337.