Ayda is not alone

Community Mental Health Center, Gaziantep

Relief International offers free mental health support to vulnerable refugees, through the partnership with UOSSM and the Community Mental Health Center in Gaziantep, with the valuable support of the European Union – ECHO.

Ayda is eleven years old and she is one of the children who visit the center together with her sisters, for psychological counseling and support. Ayda has been living in Turkey for the past years, as she fled with her family from Syria to escape war and violence.

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Rahma is a psychologist at the Community Mental Health Center and she has been treating Ayda for the past months.

“Ayda is one of the cases who suffer a lot from fear and anxiety. The extreme anxiety is causing her problems. She walks while she is asleep. Also, she has a big fear of loss. She is always concerned: my dad may die and my mom could die. This situation started since she witnessed what happened in Syria almost five years ago. Day by day, this problem became bigger and her fears stronger.”

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Ayda’s family realized the challenges she was facing and decided to seek support at the Community Mental Health Center.

“This was a much needed intervention. She is now doing better.” Rahma says.

The Mental Health Center plays a vital role in helping members of the refugee communities integrate and have an active social role in Gaziantep. The center offers:

  • Psychiatric medication through medical and psychiatric supervision
  • Individual psychotherapy sessions for all ages
  • Individual support and group counseling for all ages
  • Capacity building activities and trainings in Mental Health and Phychosocial support

The center is the first to have been licensed by the Turkish Ministry of Health and it operates as a model for other similar centers.

Dr Jalal is a psychiatrist working at the center for the past years. He explains the main challenges of the people who visit the center and how he works to empower them to continue their treatment and overcome trauma.

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“The people who come here suffer from anxiety, psychotic disorders and they are depressed. In some cases, they feel hopeless and have issues dealing with their daily routine. Many refugees suffer from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They have lost family members and they face financial problems and a vague future. Some people really need medication: antipsychotics and antidepressants to get better. We treat and empower them, help them access important information and capacity building services so that they can manage their challenges better. They see the medical team is here for them and that this is a place they can get help and, thus, feel less hopeless. This is our goal: not to leave them alone.”

The project is supported by the European Union – ECHO. Find out more about RI’s work with refugees in Turkey here https://www.ri.org/reach/middle-east/turkey


© Vicky Markolefa | Relief International