Close button
The Guardian
Email YouTube Facebook Instagram Twitter WhatsApp

Why 20% of populations in conflict countries develop mental disorders


The Netherlands Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Mrs. Sigrid Kaag, has said that 20 per cent of populations in conflict situations develop mental health disorders.

The affected population, according to her, include 40 per cent of children in conflict zones have also severe emotional condition. Kaag disclosed this Monday at an International Conference on Mental Health and Psycho-social Support Summit (MHPSS) in crisis situations in Amsterdam.She said the quality of mental health and psychosocial services, is still significantly lower than quality of physical healthcare services.

According to her, the international conference on mental health is very urgent. Her words: “This is the day on which we change. When we translate talk into action, commitment to really serve all those whom we may never know.“They are as important as anyone who is close and dear to us. But who are as important as anyone else. In the West we have the privilege of knowing that mental health is important, but as Tim Kendall has rightly said, this topic has been fairly ignored.”She said the pain you can’t see and touch, that is the most difficult to heal for family, friends, and all affected persons in armed and communal conflicts.


Kaag added: “The people is crisis situations are the most difficult to reach, but everybody is affected. If my ministerial role is to be worth something, this theme is what I will have to deliver on.“Today we may use different words to describe people affected by trauma, but we mean the same thing. We are failing them now as then.“We are failing to provide help to those whose minds the dead have ravished, whose lungs once loved laughter, whose souls have been tarnished by carnage incomparable.”

She said that the conference was convened for children, women and men branded by war and conflict.“That’s why I’m truly honoured to welcome you to Amsterdam, Netherlands for the opening of the world’s first ministerial conference on mental health and psycho-social support in crisis situations,” she said.

Kaag also declared yesterday; that the conference on mental health is very urgent.Her words: “And many of you come from countries and conflict settings where you know this and live this. Day in and out, it is necessary and needed. Sadly, it is also late.

“Countless conferences have already been held about emergency aid, humanitarian access, medical assistance in crisis situations and development cooperation. But none is on the issue that’s on our agenda today (Monday).”

Speaking on mental health significance, Kaag said: “But this is an uncomfortable truth. It’s distressing; because despite all resolutions that have previously been drafted and adopted, all aid agencies, including all relief efforts that have been undertaken, mental health has never been given the status and priority that it deserves.

“Reassuring, because you are all here today, the tide is turning. I also feel a sense of hared of duty and commitment, and a duty to deliver towards our shared humanity. “Your presence here today is a tribute to those who have long suffered in silence. Their voices have to be heard, so that we might find words for what has previously gone unspoken.”

“Vital healthcare, mental as well as physical, is scarce in areas ravaged by conflict, in and out of camps or settings of internal displacement.” According to her, it is usually unacknowledged and unaddressed. She said: “But this doesn’t resolve any particular situation. Broken souls remain broken, even after the damaged bodies that house them have healed.“The recent suicide rates among veterans of conflict situations are significantly higher than among other groups, even when assistance has been provided.

“War’s trauma endures long after the last bullet has been fired. And all too often, the very last step taken or bullet fired is a desperate act of self-harm.”She said adequate mental healthcare and psychosocial support are need, when number of conflicts around world is increasing along with Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees.


“And even then we are not talking about the triple-A package, we’re talking about modest, inadequate, and insufficient services.“The amount of development assistance dedicated to mental health remains pitifully small,” she lamented, adding that what was planned, were never asked for. She said the failure to collectively respond to this global health crisis results in a monumental loss of human capital. While investing on mental health, she said: “I believe it is a significant dent in our human dignity, and our shared humanity.

“We often say, at conferences like these, that we believe in investing in human capital, but we seem to forget about the most important adjective: human.“So no longer will we focus our efforts exclusively on rebuilding bombed-out bridges and providing first aid.“We need to acknowledge the soul; which makes us human to access mental healthcare and psychosocial support, which are vital for human rights.

“From today we will coalesce and leverage our collective efforts to ensure that we reach new heights. We scale up with investments, so as to make it happen. We need to break the silence that still oppresses so many, including silence that lies heavily on societies torn apart by conflict.”According to her, the break is on silence of shame, of unacknowledged, unnoticed suffering.She noted that to improved access to mental healthcare and psychosocial support in crisis situations; is a long road.


Receive News Alerts on Whatsapp: +2348136370421

No comments yet