The flight of over 900,000 Muslim refugees from Rohingya to Bangladesh since August 2017 has resulted in the largest single refugee camp in the world.
The Rohingya deal with constant violence as well as stressors related to living in the camps, including disease; lack of food, water and sanitation; and lack of essential services like schools and medical facilities. This has led to a high level of psychological trauma: 90% of Rohingyas are estimated to have depression and 40% suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Despite humanitarian relief from international agencies and local NGOs, for a variety of reasons ranging from lack of professional training to age-old stigmas and beliefs, the Rohingyas mental health needs are largely unmet.
Washington University in St. Louis faculty and trainees are helping to address this issue. They are helping local NGOs develop mental health units within their organizations and de-stigmatize mental health services and promote their uptake within the community. Faculty also are helping to identify future community education topics and messaging. Lastly, they are training local healthcare providers to identify psychological and physical signs of torture so victims can be referred to treatment centers that can provide appropriate support.