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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - International health
Title Not forgetting severe mental disorders in humanitarian emergencies: a descriptive study from the Philippines
Volume 8
Issue 5
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
Page numbers 336-344
URL https://academic.oup.com/inthealth/article/8/5/336/2198300
Background: Severe mental disorders are often neglected following a disaster. Based on Médecins Sans Frontières’ (MSF) experience of providing mental health (MH) care after the 2013 typhoon in the Philippines, we describe the monthly volume of MH activities and beneficiaries; characteristics of people seeking MH care; profile and outcomes of people with severe mental disorders; prescription of psychotropic medication; and factors facilitating the identification and management of individuals with severe mental disorders.
Methods: A retrospective review of programme data was carried out.
Results: In total, 172 persons sought MH care. Numbers peaked three months into MSF's intervention and decreased thereafter. Of 134 (78%) people with complete data, 37 (28%) had a severe mental disorder, often characterised by psychotic symptoms (n=24, 64%) and usually unrelated to the typhoon (n=32, 86%). Four people (11%) were discharged after successful treatment, two (5%) moved out of the area, 20 (54%) were referred for follow-up on cessation of MSF activities and 10 (27%) were lost-to-follow-up. Psychotropic treatment was prescribed for 33 (75%) people with mental disorders and for 11 with non-severe mental disorders.
Conclusions: This study illustrates how actors can play an important role in providing MH care for people with severe mental disorders in the aftermath of a disaster.

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