Guided self-help intervention reduces refugees’ psychological distress and improves wellbeing in humanitarian crises

March 2nd, 2020    News

Group of women in a classroom

HealthRight’s Director for the Peter C. Alderman Program for Global Mental Health, Dr. Wietse Tol, and colleagues published their findings from the first randomized trial of its kind, finding that multimedia guided self-help intervention can be delivered rapidly to large numbers of people in low-resource humanitarian settings by non-specialists with minimal training.

A guided self-help approach that provides strategies for managing distress and coping with adversity is safe, and resulted in meaningful improvements in psychological distress and functioning compared to enhanced usual care over three months in female refugees living in a settlement in Uganda, according to a randomized trial involving almost 700 South Sudanese refugee women, published in The Lancet Global Health journal.

The study is the first randomized trial of a guided self-help group intervention in a low-resource humanitarian setting. Although longer follow-up is needed to determine the long-term effects of the intervention, the authors say that guided self-help could be a promising first-line strategy to address the vast gap in mental health support in areas where humanitarian access is difficult, such as South Sudan and Syria.

Wietse Tol discussed his research in a podcast with Nina Putnis of the Lancet Global Health.