We spoke to our colleagues with CVT Jordan about emergency mental health care. Leah James, CVT psychotherapist/trainer, and Simone van der Kaaden, Country Director-Jordan, discuss what it means to provide care in a situation where refugees face significant ongoing challenges and how they use “vicarious resilience” to counter a dark world view.
Can you describe what emergency mental health means?
Leah James, MSW, PhD: In general, it refers to mental health services implemented in the midst or in the immediate aftermath of an emergency. In some cases, services might also be implemented in the longer recovery phase. There are different opinions about timing and what constitutes an emergency. It could be human conflict or natural disaster or a combination of these two compounded by other factors, such as ongoing poverty and injustice.
People often think about emergency mental health as being short-term and perhaps more psychosocial in nature because it is necessary to serve a large population of people with a lot of different kinds of intense needs associated with stressors in their current environment.
CVT defines emergency mental health slightly differently: we have an intensive therapeutic approach that emphasizes not only helping people to cope with ongoing stressors, but also to process significant traumatic experiences that have been part of the emergencies they’ve endured.
Simone van der Kaaden, MSc: When you look at mental health needs from CVT’s perspective, the focus is on refugees and internally displaced individuals.
Simone van der Kaaden
But self-care and staff support are very important components of CVT’s ongoing training of the national clinical staff. These are often young professionals in a relatively new field: trauma rehabilitation services. We also integrate this into the external trainings we provide to other local (mental) health and social services providers. Continue reading