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Culture, Context and the Mental Health and Psychosocial Wellbeing of Syrians
Syria report UNHCR
A Review for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Staff Working with Syrians Affected by Armed Conflict 2015
This report aims to provide information on the sociocultural background of the Syrian population as well as cultural aspects of mental health and psychosocial wellbeing relevant to care and support. it is based on an extensive review of the available literature on mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), within the context of the current armed conflict in Syria.
The document is primarily meant to inform mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) staff, such as: psychologists, psychosocial counsellors, social workers, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, and others who are involved providing individual or group counselling, psychotherapy and/or psychiatric treatment for Syrians. Other humanitarian professionals, such as general health providers working with Syrians or staff involved in public health, community-based protection, community mobilisation, child protection, sexual and gender based violence (SGBV), may find this document useful, although it is not primarily written for them.
The specific information in this review complements more generic guidance, such as the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Guidelines for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings and UNHCR’s Operational Guidance for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Programming in Refugee Operations. Together with these guidelines, this report can inform the design and delivery of interventions to promote mental health and psychosocial wellbeing of Syrians affected by armed conflict and displacement, both within Syria and in countries hosting refugees from Syria.
Suggested citation: Hassan, G, Kirmayer, LJ, Mekki- Berrada A., Quosh, C., el Chammay, R., Deville-Stoetzel, J.B., Youssef, A., Jefee-Bahloul, H., Barkeel-Oteo, A., Coutts, A., Song, S. & Ventevogel, P. Culture, Context and the Mental Health and Psychosocial Wellbeing of Syrians: A Review for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support staff working with Syrians Affected by Armed Conflict. Geneva: UNHCR, 2015
Photo credit: ©2014 Turjoy Chowdhury, Courtesy of Photoshare


ASEAN Letter Writing Competition
September 25, 2014
ASEAN Letter Writing Competition

Topic: How can ASEAN Community be more disaster Resilient?

Organized by: Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Deadline: October 3, 2014

Write a compelling letter to ASEAN Secretary-General and you may receive his reply! If you are under 12 years old or between 13 and 18 years old, you have a chance to receive a response letter from ASEAN SG and certificate of award by submitting your letter to “ASEAN Letter Writing Competition” with the topic “How can the ASEAN Community be more disaster resilient”. Start writing now as the deadline for submission is 3 October 2014.

Eligible Participants:

Category 1: Children under 12 years old

Category 2: Young adolescents from 13-18 years old

Entries must include:

  • Letter to Secretary General of ASEAN

The letter should contain more or less 350 words. It must explain your motivation to write the letter, insightful aspirations and thought- provoking elements that have valuable inputs to enhance community resilient community disaster resilience. Letters must be original and passion driven.

  • Copy of ID card or student card

Send your entries to: [email protected]

One winner for each category will be selected from each ASEAN Member state.

Winning letters will be published regionally, and the winners will receive:

  • Response letter from the Secretary General of ASEAN
  • Certificate of Award
Please give feedback to review of IASC Guidelines on MHPSS!
IASC Guidelines MHPSS

The 2007 Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support(MHPSS) are currently being reviewed by the IASC Reference Group on MHPSS. This initiative is supported by UNICEF and will include a survey, a desk review, programme analysis, case studies and in-depth interviews with key actors in the sector. This is an opportunity for agencies to provide feedback on their experience with the guidelines. We anticipate that the review will promote broader use of the Guidelines, highlight it’s strengths and weaknesses, and identify gaps. Read more

Share your feedback on Intervention Journal

Intervention, Journal of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Conflict Affected Areas has been published since 2003. We think it’s time to evaluate the impact of Intervention. Please dedicate 10 minutes of your time to complete this survey and share your feedback on Intervention with us.

Your contribution is highly appreciated, regardless of whether you are have a subscription or not, and whether you are a frequent or infrequent reader of Intervention. Please note that your participation in this survey is anonymous and all information collected will be treated with confidentiality.

Start the online survey by activating this link below:


Please complete the survey as soon as possible and latest by May 24th. We apologize for any cross-posting, and would like to ask you to fill out the survey ONLY once.

Thank you very much for your participation.

On behalf of War Trauma Foundation
Donatien de Graaff
External evaluator

For further information contact [email protected] or visit https://www.interventionjnl.com.

Interact with Intervention readers and contributors at our group (click here) on mhpss.net

Let’s be creative! Developing an exciting online tool for children and young people!

image001The Office of the Special Representative on Violence against Children is developing a web tool for children to provide a platform for children to share and access resources for/by children about ending and preventing violence (a sort of ‘clearinghouse’ of resources). An online survey for children has been developed to help gain a better understanding of how children currently use and access resources and what kind of online tool could be most useful to them. The survey is available in English, French, Arabic and Spanish (links provided below) and should take 15-20 minutes to complete. PDF versions of the survey are also available in case this is easier for children to fill out. (please return to [email protected]). Read more

Emilia Pietka-Nykaza – New Regional Host for Refugee Integration and Settlement!

Emilia, based in the UK, is the new Regional Host for Refugee Integration and Settlement. Emilia has more than 6 years of research experience looking at complexities of integration and migrants’ settlement processes from a multidisciplinary and policy-focussed perspective. Contact Emilia at [email protected] for support in getting the most out of this network in relation to Refugee Integration and Settlement in Europe.

Worldwide Survey for Hospital Emergency Staff

Traumatic stress in injured children and their families is seen as an area of importance in emergency care. Doctors and nurses in several countries have indicated a need to learn more about the topic. An international team of health and mental health professionals now aims to develop free, tailored training materials for Emergency Department (ED) staff. To do this well, they are conducting a survey to understand training needs and wishes. Read more

November 18, 2013

The Presenters

Tineke van Pietersom is founder and Executive Director of the Antares Foundation. She obtained a Masters in Health Management, Planning and Policy and has a background in law and education.  She has held management positions within international NGOs, such as MSF-Holland for more than a decade, working in the field and in headquarters as project manager and operational director.  She has set up management trainings for field directors and was responsible for coaching field managers.  She worked as an independent consultant, in the field of management and humanitarian aid, carrying out assessments and project evaluations.

Since 1999 she is full time involved in the Antares Foundation.  She is responsible for operational management and organizational development.  She plays a major role in the design of psycho social support and stress management programs worldwide, and is responsible for the overseas projects. In addition, she frequently conducts field assessments, monitoring missions, project and training evaluations and management trainings for international and national NGOs.  She has designed various staff support programs for international and national NGOs in Eastern Europe, Africa, Middle East and Former Soviet Republics.



 Despina Constandinides is the Psychosocial Support Consultant, Red Cross Red Crescent, MENA.  She represents a psychosocial consortium of Danish Red Cross and Italian Red Cross working with Lebanon Red Cross and Jordan and Iraqi Red Crescent. She holds an M.A. in Clinical Psychology in Ball State University. She has experience in working with displaced and traumatised populations living in the occupied Palestinian State, refugees from Iraq and Syria.  Her work involves training and supervision of staff and volunteers in the MENA region as well as supporting the Red Cross/Red Crescent National Societies to develop psychosocial support interventions in response to the Syria crisis.





Winnifred Simon is Director of the Antares Foundation.  Her educational background includes studies in Linguistics and Philosophy as well as Semantics, Socio Linguistics and Psycho Linguistics, followed by Clinical Psychology at the University of Amsterdam. She received extensive additional postgraduate training in Psychotherapy and Counseling Studies at the University of Amsterdam and the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Within the Antares Foundation she is responsible for research and development of the psychosocial support programs.  She leads an international team of psychologists and psychiatrists conducting stress management workshops in the field, giving psychological support to teams and individuals after critical incidents and supporting management of NGOs in development of psychosocial systems for their staff.  She is responsible for the organization of major conferences on Stress and the Humanitarian Aid Workers, held in Amsterdam in cooperation with CDC.  Currently, Dr. Simon is coordinating various international working groups on research, methods and techniques, and minimum standards of psychosocial care for humanitarian staff.

Dr. Simon has extensive working experience within humanitarian organizations, both in the field and at headquarters level.  Within MSF-Holland she was responsible for the development and management of the psychosocial care and trauma prevention unit for ten years.  During these years she was responsible and actively involved in crisis intervention in field situations, teaching and training field managers in stress management support after major evacuations and during ongoing stressful situations.   She has conducted numerous consultancies for Antares on mental health programs and implemented staff support programs all over the world.



Collective Trauma, Collective Healing: Promoting Community Resilience in the Aftermath of Disaster | Jack Saul

Collective Trauma, Collective Healing is a guide for mental health professionals working in response to large-scale political violence or natural disaster. It provides a framework that practitioners can use to develop their own community based, collective approach to treating trauma and providing clinical services that are both culturally and contextually appropriate. Clinicians will come away from the book with a solid understanding of new roles that health and mental health professionals play in disasters—roles that encourage them to recognize and enhance the resilience and coping skills in families, organizations, and the community at large. Read more

Operational Guidance Mental Health & Psychosocial Support Programming for Refugee Operations | UNHCR 2013

Click here for the Guidance.

This operational guidance on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) provides a practical orientation and tools for UNHCR country operations. It covers specific points of good practice to consider when developing MHPSS programming and offers advice on priority issues and practical difficulties, while also providing some background information and definitions. Since MHPSS is a cross cutting concept this operational guidance is relevant for programming in various sectors, including health, community-based protection, education, shelter, nutrition, food security and livelihoods.

The focus of this operational guidance is on refugees and asylum seekers, but it may apply to other persons of concern within UNHCR operations such as stateless persons, internally displaced persons and returnees.

The guidance is meant for operations in both camp and non-camp settings, and in both rural and urban settings in low and middle-income countries with a UNHCR presence. The guidance should be adapted according to different contexts. A standardized format for programme implementation cannot be offered because this depends to a large extent on existing national capacities and local opportunities.