Doctors without Borders Reports on Mental Health in Lebanon

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

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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    November 15th, 2009 at 2:21 AM

    This is very very unfortunate… one-sixth of the populace having some kind of mental health disorder or the other…

    People must be educated with regard to the prejudice and stigma attached to mental health conditions…but this can be done only if there is peace in the region… nevertheless, the organization must be lauded for the great job they are already doing.

  • Denise


    November 15th, 2009 at 5:00 AM

    As a counselor in New York city, I am not surprised people in Lebanon act that way. It is so difficult to convince someone who needs help to go and get it.

  • eliza


    November 16th, 2009 at 2:00 AM

    Wars need to stop at least on humanitarian basis…it is very unfortunate that citizens not only suffer collateral damage but also experience mental health issues…

  • madeleine


    November 16th, 2009 at 11:30 AM

    I would imagine that there are dire mental health issues in many countries where war seems to be a way of life and it is no different in Lebanon. These people have had to endure hardships that we will hopefully never see on American soil but it is phenomenally brave and courageous for doctors to try to get the help to those who have to suffer in those places.

  • Kory Richardson

    Kory Richardson

    November 16th, 2009 at 11:40 AM

    It is a very difficult situation out there by the sound of the report, and I think the UN can have more mental health centers out there with the help of a few voluntary organizations like these…?

  • Sarah


    November 16th, 2009 at 6:20 PM

    Mental health issues seem to be the reason for war torn countries being in the limelight of late. Post war things are so out of gear it is not surprising indeed.



    November 17th, 2009 at 2:54 AM

    People need to be evacuated from such harsh conditions where the troops march through their streets in cities… or even better, the troops need to be pulled out, and this needs to be done soon, because every minute the number of people that are affected is increasing.

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