To promote improved services to some of the most vulnerable and violence-affected people in the world, SEED Foundation worked with a broad range of stakeholders to develop a Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) Standard of Care Model, tailor-made for the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Delivering high-quality services to meet the complex needs of the population in Kurdistan has always been challenging but the COVID-19 pandemic has created even more challenges, underlining the need for sustained investment in comprehensive mental healthcare integrated with social services. SEED launched this resource on World Mental Health Day 2020, supporting the campaign to #InvestinMentalHealth.
SEED is dedicated to improving the conditions and lives of survivors of violence and those at risk in the KRI. In addition to providing direct mental health services, SEED also works to promote sustainable and transformative policy and social changes that will strengthen protections and services and protections for vulnerable people. In line with this objective, SEED has been working on developing a MHPSS Standard of Care Model for KRI since 2018, and has sought technical reviews and conducted consultations with a wide range of stakeholders, with the aim that it would be utilized by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and all MHPSS actors to achieve greater coordination, quality, and accountability in services.
Kurdistan and Iraq’s decades of conflict and violence have led to a mental health crisis and trauma is widespread in society. The needs are especially high among displaced populations who fled, escaped or were rescued from ISIS, many of who witnessed the murder of family members, experienced extreme violence and torture, and in some cases enslavement and human trafficking. Although in response to the crisis, mental health and psychosocial support services became more available, they remain inadequate in response to the complex and overwhelming needs. Moreover, shame and stigma related to mental health, combined with a lack of freedom of movement for some, makes seeking and accessing support very difficult. There is a continuing and urgent need and demand for high-quality MHPSS services by host communities, internally displaced people, and refugees, making the Standard of Care Model even more relevant and especially important, and highlights to need for the MHPSS response in the KRI to transition from emergency response to a more sustainable, long-term, post-conflict response. The SoC model can contribute to the KRI transitioning to a more sustainable mental health strategy and response to address the growing and long-term needs of the population.