Anera Makes Mental Health Treatment Available in Lebanon
It is estimated that among the Arab states, Lebanon has the highest prevalence of anxiety.
Lebanon’s long history of political turmoil and violence has not only led the residents of the country into a state of continuing insecurity and scarce economic opportunities, but also to an environment that is vulnerable to mental health disorders, with the most prevalent being anxiety and depression. It is estimated that among the Arab states, Lebanon has the highest prevalence of anxiety.
Due to insufficient resources for and the stigma around mental health services in Lebanon, nine out of ten people who need help can’t get it. There are very few practicing psychiatrists and psychologists and only 42 outpatient mental health facilities in Lebanon.
Under these circumstances, the Family Guidance Center (FGC) emerged in Beirut in 1997 to address the need for specialized preventive and therapeutic mental health services as well as basic emotional and educational guidance among refugee youth, whose challenges are exacerbated by social marginalization and displacement.
“Initially, the priority was for Palestinian refugees, but lately in response to the Syrian crisis, our services have also been open to Syrian refugees, without discrimination,” explained Lilian Younes, the mental health program coordinator. Across the five locations of FCG in Lebanon, 750 people were able to take advantage of its services.
Due to limited funding and limited hours, FGC struggles to accommodate the growing number of people who need mental health services, and even has to place many children on a waitlist for therapy. Anera is helping to alleviate some of FCG’s financial woes by delivering medicines, donated by Direct Relief, to treat seizures, bipolar disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, compulsive obsessive disorder and social phobias. Vulnerable patients can therefore get the medicine they need free-of-charge.
Dr. Madeleine Badaro Taha, who has been working with FGC since 1998, says that, “in addition to clinical psychology services that are typically either one-on-one or with the individual’s family, there are cases of extreme disorders that call for the use of medicine and, as the only specialized facility, we need to be able to provide that service. Anera and Direct Relief have made that possible.”