Syrian refugees in Lebanon misses help dealing with psychological trauma

Photo: Eduardo Soteras Jalil/DRC. 

Syrian refugees in Lebanon feel distressed and many need assistance to deal with their problems. That is the result of a new study from DIGNITY and the Danish Refugee Council. Psychological support needs to be a bigger part of the support programmes, says country director of the Danish Refugee Council in Lebanon

For Syrian refugees living in Lebanon stress, anxiety and physical pain is part of everyday life. Over half rate their own health as fair or poor and around two thirds express that they need assistance to deal with physical pain and distress.

The study was launched in Lebanon today and has through interviews with 1082 Syrian refugees investigated, how they perceive their health and how they perceive the need for help.

The research shows that insecure basic needs, such as food, shelter, security and employment plays a key role in the experience of distress. Moreover, 25% of the respondents have lost a close family member and also that has shown to have big influence on the refugees’ health.

-The findings showed that those who had lost a close family member, had a much higher risk of experiencing pain and distress, having functionality difficulties in their everyday life and a bad self-rated health, it says in the report.

Overall it shows that there is a strong connection between bad mental health and physical pain

-We already know that the Syrian refugee suffers from PTSD and anxiety. But that there is a link between their mental health and a high level of pain has not necessarily been shown before. What is really interesting though, and which the study also shows, is how the refugees handle these mental problems and how they perceive the different services available, says David Oehlenschläger, head of rehabilitation at DIGNITY

According to the Danish Refugee Council the results of the study shows, that physiological support needs to be a part of all help going towards Syrian refugees.

-Psychological support is easily forgotten, because the refugees have other basic needs that need to be covered: Housing, living expenses, security and their physical health. Psychological wellbeing however is an important requisite for the refugees’ lives to function properly. And seeing how many of them, have had traumatic experiences, it is obvious, that the need for help is big, says Rickard Hartmann, country director of Danish Refugee Council in Lebanon.

More wants help from NGO’s
62% of the respondents says they need help overcoming their worries and pain. At the same time it shows that only 21% knows of relevant support programmes, and that only one out of four has received help from a specialised support programme.

Out of the 62%, who says they need help, most seek help within the family, whilst fewest seeks help with spiritual leaders and local doctors.

In the question about where people would like to seek help, most (41%) answer that they would like to seek help at an NGO in the future. But since the organisations are too far away, too expensive to reach and there is a lack of knowledge of where to go, it is not the most obvious choice, says the respondents.

-Many NGOs have limited resources and that can be one of the reasons, why the help doesn’t reach the refugees. Besides, something suggests that there isn’t enough NGO’s in the area to meet the demands, says David Oehlenschläger.

Read the study here.

Contact:
Head of press Caroline Broge, DIGNITY – Danish Institute Against Torture
+ 45 41 20 03 40
E-mail: cabrd@dignityinstitute.dk

Press phone at Danish Refugee Council: +45 28 11 67 27