Since the 2010 earthquake, PIH has provided mental health and psychosocial support services to help thousands of survivors, and those suffering from mental disorders.

Since January 2010, PIH’s mental health and psychosocial services team has provided direct services to more than 25,000 adults and children in Port-au-Prince and throughout the Central Plateau and Lower Artibonite regions of Haiti.

Life in the settlement camps around Port-au-Prince came with untold stresses and hardships. Beyond people recovering from the trauma of the 2010 earthquake, families living in these makeshift communities have had to deal with epidemics of sexual assault, physical abuse, depression, anxiety, and other emotional challenges.

Since the earthquake, PIH and its Haitian sister organization Zanmi Lasante (ZL) have employed a 64-member team — comprised of 14 psychologists, 35 social workers and social worker assistants, and a cadre of community mental health workers — to meet these needs.

For nearly two years PIH/ZL worked in Parc Jean Marie Vincent, the largest of the settlement camps in Port-au-Prince. There, the team provided 6,843 total psychosocial encounters, including 44 psychiatric evaluations, 2,431 psychosocial evaluations, and 2,223 ongoing mental health visits. An additional 678 patients participated in group therapy sessions.

 
 

Patients receiving mental health services in Port-au-Prince.

 
 

Zanmi Lasante's mental health and psychosocial support team in Haiti.

Beyond treating acute problems, PIH/ZL has organized relaxation and leisure groups to address stress-related mental health issues for 193 adults who were experiencing extreme stress or anxiety. The team also organized activites for 751 children, which included art therapy sessions, film screenings, and song and dance time. PIH also organized an excursion day for 242 children in the camps to provide much-needed playtime (sports, games, and other activities) in a safe environment off the campgrounds.

PIH/ZL has conducted school-based mental health education sessions for 13,694 high school-aged students and their teachers. These sessions taught children the signs and symptoms of mental illness, provided sensitization and anti-stigma messages surrounding mental illness, and taught strategies for combating stress.

PIH/ZL have developed a basic collaborative care service model at all ZL hospital sites, with each site assigned one psychologist whose responsibilities encompass both psychosocial services related to HIV/TB and management of clinically severe presentations, including trauma-related symptoms and chronic mental disorders. The psychologists work in multidisciplinary teams, with each team incorporating a physician for prescribing medications. One psychiatrist serves the entire ZL hospital system, the Dr. Mario Pagenel Fellow in Global Mental Health Delivery.

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