Operators for the program Help-Self Plus of the WHO in Ugand |Credit: Website Mental Health Innovation Network
Operators for the program Help-Self Plus of the WHO in Ugand |Credit: Website Mental Health Innovation Network

A study carried out by the University of Verona and other colleges has highlighted that 50% of migrants who have applied for international protection reported some form of psychological distress. The study pointed out that a plan developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) appears to help prevent the evolution of psychological distress.

A new study has found that 50% of migrants who have applied for international protection in different European countries reported some form of psychological distress and 30-40% of them had a mental health disorder. The conditions, according to the study, appear to be linked to the difficulties and suffering encountered during their journey to the host country.

The study, entitled "Redefine, Refugee Emergency: Defining and Implementing Novel Evidence-based Psychosocial Interventions" was presented on December 1 and involved the University of Verona together with nine other universities.

It was funded at a European level with nearly three million euros.

According to the research, the evolution of mental health conditions can be prevented thanks to the Self-Help Plus program developed by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Randomized trial on 1,000 migrants

Corrado Barbui, the scientific head of the project and director of the WHO center on mental health research at the University of Verona, said that providing ''psychological support to groups does not require specifically trained personnel, like a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist, but a facilitator. We have carried out a randomized experiment on over 1,000 migrants who reached Italy, Germany, Austria, Finland, the United Kingdom and Turkey and we proved the benefit of this intervention."

Initiative also useful with the pandemic

Self-Help Plus can also be useful as a possible initiative for the population to reduce psychological distress caused by social distancing imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The WHO center on mental health research has also created a network with 13 European partners for a new EU-funded research project that will study the effectiveness of Self-Help in vulnerable populations exposed to the COVID emergency.

The new project, called Respond (Improving the Preparedness of Health Systems to Reduce Mental Health and Psychosocial Concerns resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic) has received six million euros in funding for a three-year-long research program led by the University of Verona.

 

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