• Users Online: 429
  • Print this page
  • Email this page
Year : 2003  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 14-32

Mental Health Programs In Areas Of Armed Conflict: The Médecins Sans Frontières Counselling Centres In Bosnia-Hercegovina

1 psychologist, is mental health advisor of Médecins Sans Frontières Holland and was formerly coordinator of their counselling centres in Bosnia-Hercegovina
2 psychologist, is professor of psychotraumatology at Tilburg and Utrecht Universities, The Netherlands, and head research of the Institute for Psychotrauma
3 coordinator of the Médecins Sans Frontières mental health project in Sarajevo between 1994 and 1998 and is now working for Health Net International, Sarajevo

Correspondence Address:
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

Rights and PermissionsRights and Permissions

Mental health programmes in complex emergencies are generally accepted as an important component of aid work. However, this is a relatively recent development and there is a lack of theory-based practice and little analysis of previous interventions upon which effective, appropriate and sustainable programmes can be based. This article describes the theoretical framework, objectives, implementation and intervention activities of the mental health programme of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Bosnia-Hercegovina, 1994-1998. Approximately 10,000 individuals were helped during this time. The aims of the programmes were to provide culturally-appropriate support, assist in coping with extreme stress, counteract helplessness, and reinforce protective factors. Ten counselling centres were established where 70 local counsellors and supervisors worked after a training period of three months. Assistance and interventions provided by the counsellors ranged from mass psycho-education, training, individual outreach activities to crisis intervention and brief psychotherapeutic treatment - psychological structuring, working on (self) control, training self-help techniques, reconnecting the experiences to one's emotions and discussing the personal meaning of traumatic experiences. Despite general acceptance that war may lead to serious mental health problems, the provision of help is stifled by disagreement on the cultural relevance and effectiveness of different interventions in emergency mental health programmes. This article, describing the establishment of a training programme and counselling centres during a war, and the continuation of these programmes six years on, provides a strong case in favour of the applicability of these programmes.

Print this article     Email this article
 Next article
 Previous article
 Table of Contents

 Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
 Citation Manager
 Access Statistics
 Reader Comments
 Email Alert *
 Add to My List *
 * Requires registration (Free)

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded9    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal