Saturday , October 23 2021

Mental illness affects one fifth of people living in war zones


LONDON (Reuters) – One in five people in war zones have depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday, with many suffering severe forms mental ilnesess.

FILE PHOTO: A woman sits on a bench overlooking the ancient citadel of Aleppo and the old city, Syria April 13, 2019. REUTERS / Omar Sanadiki / File Photo

The findings highlight the long-term impact of war-induced crises in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, according to the UN health agency, and figures are significantly higher than in peacetime. people have a mental illness.

"Given the large numbers of people in need and the humanitarian imperative to reduce suffering, there is an urgent need to implement scalable mental health interventions to address this burden," the research team said.

Mark van Ommeren, a WHO mental health specialist who worked on the team, said the findings "add even more weight to the immediate and sustained investment argument so that mental and psychosocial support is made available to all people in need living in conflict and its consequences. "

By 2016, the number of ongoing armed conflicts has reached a record high of 53 in 37 countries and 12 percent of the world's people live in an active war zone, according to United Nations data. Since World War II, nearly 69 million people around the world have been forced to flee from war and violence.

The WHO Conflict Mental Health Study, published in The Lancet medical journal, was conducted by a team of WHO researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia and the University of Washington's Institute for Measuring and Evaluating Health and Harvard University in the United States. .

It analyzed studies of 129 studies and data from 39 countries published between 1980 and August 2017.

Regions that have experienced conflict over the past 10 years have been included and mental illnesses have been categorized as mild, moderate or severe. Natural disasters and public health emergencies, such as Ebola, were not included.

Overall, in war zones, the mean prevalence was higher for mild mental health conditions, at 13%. About 4% of people living in armed conflict had moderate mental illness and, for severe conditions, the prevalence was 5%.

The study also found that rates of depression and anxiety in conflict settings appeared to increase with age, and depression was more common among women than men.

The study was funded by WHO, the Queensland Department of Health and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Report of Kate Kelland Ed Osmond

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