Doctors without Borders is an organization that has long been recognized for identifying needy areas around the world and supplying trained, caring health professionals in an effort to improve access. Known for providing advanced, modern care in places that are often beset by violence and social strife, the group hopes to involve the health community in working with a high standard of ethics and treatment that doesn’t stop for political and religious turmoil. Recently, Doctors without Borders reported on its efforts in Lebanon, a country that often receives exposure only for its episodes of violence. The group has focused on mental health services within Lebanon after discovering a significant need for such services following the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah.
Working to offer therapy and other mental health services such as psychiatric medications to those in need, the Lebanon clinic run by Doctors without Borders notes that approximately 17% of the population is affected by mental health concerns, yet strong social stigmas exist to persuade those in need to refuse treatment. In the report, the clinic’s staff recall meeting clients who seem especially defensive, insisting at the outset that they aren’t “crazy,” and are only eventually convinced of the professionals’ understanding of their basic goodness and human potential. High-cost counseling in place within the country is also inaccessible to most who might overcome local prejudice, and many services concentrate on working with children alone rather than incorporating adults.
Though much work remains to be completed in Lebanon to ease the impact of war and economic struggle on the country’s people, Doctors without Borders is showing that professional and accessible mental health presence can go a long way toward reshaping traditional ideas and helping those in need receive affordable assistance.
© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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