At the end of 2018, WarTrauma is training two groups of UNHCR staff supporting refugees from the South Sudan conflict. In Sudan’s capital Khartoum 23 health professionals from refugee camps in four states were trained in diagnosis and treatment of the main mental health disorders. This week people trained in Ethiopia near the South Sudanese border, are receiving a refresher course and supervision.
Many of the staff attending the training in Khartoum were medical doctors serving camps housing 9,000 to 45,000 refugees. The doctors will train local counsellors to help them in providing psychosocial support to people diagnosed with a mental health disorder.
Participants to the course were highly motivated and made long days to learn as much as possible. For example, Mental Health Supervisor Rania Alkheir (35). She works in 2 camps in White Nile State, South Sudan. One camp housing 13,000 refugees and the other housing 45,000 refugees. She says: “At the start I was worried, because normally a training is just endless powerpoint presentations. But WarTrauma trainers really involved us, asking whether we understood everything and testing us through role play and discussion. It helped to keep me interested and motivated for all 8 days!”
An important part of the training is the work around self-care. The aid workers hear many horrifying stories from their patients and in the harsh society of the refugee camps are often confronted by potentially traumatising events themselves. Rain Alkheir: “Being a doctor is not easy. Sometimes after a difficult session I lock the door after the patient and cry or kick against the wall out of sadness and frustration. But sometimes I am also very happy. When I find I have really supported someone, it can be very rewarding.”
This week our last training of the year is happening at the border of Ethiopia where we will work with people we trained in 2016 and 2017. To increase the long-term quality of mental health support in the camps we provide refresher sessions and supervision for the trainers and counsellors. These sessions are highly appreciated by participants so we hope to do them more often.