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Committee: WHO

Country: Brazil

Delegate: Elena Formisano, Università degli Studi dell’Insubria

Topic: Addressing Issues of Mental Health in Areas of Conflict


Wars or conflicts bring not only economic and social problems, but also long term physical and psychosocial harm and they are cause of various traumas that implicate mental issues such as depression, stress disorder, anxiety. This connection between war and mental health is known nowadays, differently from the past. In fact, according to the resolution of 2005, the WHO has drafted a series of guidelines for Mental Health and Psychosocial support in Emergency Settings, useful for numerous agencies that work into this field.


From a WHO survey of 2017 Brazil is the first country that suffers from anxiety and the fifth from depression. Even though, Brazil is not facing a war between military corps from different countries, it is characterized by the presence of armed conflicts, a “civil war”, an armed violence in urban settings mainly related to general problems that afflict the country: drug trafficking and use, social inequality and exclusion – even in the same city and especially in the biggest ones -, nicotine dependence, corruption of police bodies, huge contrasts. Furthermore, there is a lack of awareness of this situation, so that it is called “the silent civil war”. Yet, a large number of people afflicted by armed violence (even relatives) feels a sense of powerlessness, stress, anxiety, fear. Moreover, they cannot do their jobs properly or exercise their basic rights. Speaking of them, the Brasilia Consensusaims to provide users of mental health services with the access to citizenship and human rights.


The Red Cross, that gained experience with wars’ victims, has operated in Rio de Janeiro with some projects: it provided help in promoting mental health care, improving access to it for everyone. Another fundamental action was that they talked with both sides since its intervention is independent and neutral: the victims and those who are armed in order to let them be aware of the consequences and to understand the causes of their violence. It organized group therapy, encouraging people to support each other and sustaining the aim to integrate violence-scanned individuals into the community. 

Brazil, in a general reform based also on the Caracas Declarationprinciples, has deinstutionalized mental care and it  replaced the asylum, psychiatric/hospital-centered model with a coordinated care network, community and territorial one, the custodial care has been abolished. Currently, indeed, mental care is provided through the Family Health Strategy (FHS) and Psychosocial Community Centers (CAPS). Other innovative services have been created, according to the Mental Health Policy, like the Return Home program, health outpatient services, day hospitals and therapeutic workshops. In addition, the access to these services and to essential psychotropic medicines is free. 


In a future vision it is necessary an increase of what has been already done; to provide: a non-late diagnosis of the illness, projects also in schools together with the first cure, continuity in treatments, training for experts,  a place to go after the rehabilitation; to avoid: treatments that not lead to a re-integration into the community, the stigmatization, a reduction of funds (also for CAPS) in order to prevent a regression to a previous situation.  



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·      Social Development Department ...