Support Community Mental Health

Our community-based mental health programs promote the well-being of refugees affected by crisis and conflict so they can heal and rebuild their lives.

Psychologist Karla Flores (R) speaks with a client who left Honduras with her family, traveling through Mexico until they eventually found refuge at Pan de Vida Migrant Shelter in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico,  December 2021. (Paul Ratje for HIAS)

Overview

HIAS’ community-based mental health programs and psychosocial services promote the well-being of individuals, families, and communities affected by crisis and conflict so they can heal and rebuild their lives.

A supportive environment is essential to healing and recovery. Our programs strengthen existing relationships, networks, and practices that communities use to cope and heal. We train key community members to recognize emotional distress as a result of crisis or emergency, and how to respond with empathy and respect. By developing community support and peer groups, facilitating opportunities for connection in a safe environment, and linking people with necessary services, HIAS promotes a culturally sensitive approach to help people cope with adversity.

137,000

people reached directly and indirectly through services and activities in 2021

Strategies

As the scale of humanitarian crises reaches historic proportions, an unprecedented number of individuals are experiencing the emotional and psychological impacts of forced displacement. HIAS is investing in supporting mental health, which can in turn enable social and economic development.

We support community mental health by:

  • Strengthening community-based care for individuals, families, and communities impacted by crisis and conflict.

  • Building skills and competencies of key stakeholders to promote mental health and well-being.

  • Contributing to research and learning about mental health in humanitarian settings.

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Caring for the Whole Person

At HIAS, we believe in caring for the whole person, and to do that we offer refugees access to free mental health and psychosocial support services.

Impact stories

Thinking About Safety as Part of Mental Health Service

HIAS Kenya is focused on getting basic necessities to clients because taking care of those basic needs helps give refugees the sense of security they need to successfully work on other issues, like mental health.

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Lucy Juwa talking to South Sudanese refugees in Nairobi. PHOTO BY BRIAN OTIENO/HIAS

(Brian Otieno for HIAS)

Cell Phones Are a Mental Health Lifeline

Cell phones, chat apps, and social media are the lifelines many HIAS clients count on to stay in touch with counselors and peers — lifelines that are even more important as the pandemic leaves many without steady jobs, money, housing, or safety.

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Asylum seekers charge their mobile phones at an immigrant camp in the border town of Matamoros, Mexico, on December 8, 2019.
(John Moore/Getty Images)

Asylum seekers charge their mobile phones at an immigrant camp in the border town of Matamoros, Mexico, on December 8, 2019.
(John Moore/Getty Images)

Protecting Refugees in Both Body and Mind

HIAS workers around the world are there for refugees in their darkest moments: counselors who help refugees abused because they are women, support specialists who help asylum seekers through their long battles to regain dignity, and psychologists who hold the hands of children traumatized by violence.

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Benigo Diaz (C), a mental health and psychosocial support specialist in HIAS Mexico, leads a group session. September 2021.

(HIAS Mexico)

Benigo Diaz (C), a mental health and psychosocial support specialist in HIAS Mexico, leads a group session. September 2021. (HIAS Mexico)

Resources

Sep 13, 2022

Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Curriculum

Sep 13, 2022

The HIAS MHPSS curriculum offers a teaching curriculum to implement community-based support groups for refugees, newcomers and immigrants. This curriculum offers nine sessions with scripts, resources, and activities for skilled facilitators to promote healing, connection, and support.

Oct 18, 2022

Community-Based Participatory Design of a Psychosocial Intervention for Migrant Women in Ecuador and Panama

Oct 18, 2022

This paper describes a community-based participatory approach to MHPSS intervention design incorporating processes to promote local adaptability and fit while maintaining standardized elements of existing MHPSS interventions.

Oct 18, 2022

Evaluating the Feasibility of a Group Psychosocial Intervention for Migrant and Host Community Women in Ecuador and Panamá: Protocol for a Multi-site Feasibility Cluster Trial

Oct 18, 2022

This study will evaluate the appropriateness, acceptability, feasibility, and safety of intervention and research procedures for a cluster randomized comparative effectiveness trial conducted in Ecuador and Panamá with migrant and host community women.

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Help HIAS provide vital services to refugees and asylum seekers around the world