WHO releases new guidelines for treating conditions related to stress, trauma and losses

Yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse released 2 new guidelines, a news release and an article in the The Journal of the American Medical Association.

In the last couple of years, the WHO had received numerous requests for guidance for mental health care after trauma and loss. These 2 publications are the result of the work of dozens practitioners and organizations in the field, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Traumatic events and loss are common in people’s lives. In a previous WHO study of 21 countries, more than 10% of respondents reported witnessing violence (21.8%) or experiencing interpersonal violence (18.8%), accidents (17.7%), exposure to war (16.2%) or trauma to a loved one (12.5%). An estimated 3.6% of the world’s population has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the previous year, the study showed.
These 2 new guidelines are written for health workers in non-specialized settings. The types of support mentioned are psychological first aid, psycho-education, stress management and helping affected people to identify and strengthen positive coping methods and social supports. In addition, referral for advanced treatments such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) or a new technique called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) should be considered for people suffering from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). But one need special training and supervision before applying these techniques.

The 2 new releases:
1. The WHO Guidelines for the Management of Conditions Specifically Related to Stress, 273 pages free download pdf in English (but I’m sure translations will follow).
These WHO mhGAP guidelines were developed to provide recommended management strategies for conditions specifically related to stress, including symptoms of acute stress, post-traumatic stress disorder and bereavement.

2. The WHO mhGAP-IG (mental health GAP intervention guide) module on the Assessment and Management of Conditions Specifically Related to Stress, 18 pages free download pdf in English.

This new mhGAP (Hental Health Gap Action Programme) module by WHO and UNHCR is an annex to the mhGAP Intervention Guide for mental, neurological and substance use disorders in non-specialized health settings (WHO, 2010), 109 pages, available in several languages.

If you are interested in other guidelines and manuals, check the the in2mentalhealth list ‘More then 20 Mental Health and MHPSS Manuals for Non-Specialized Settings’

Roos Korste, psychologist, international trainer, blogger

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