Influence of psycho-social support strategies in promotion of mental health among refugees in Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya: A case of center for victims of torture
The need for psycho-social program for refugees living in refugee camps is overwhelming. In Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, the Center for Victims of Torture is providing psychosocial support for the thousands of refugees living in the camp. This study therefore seeks to assess the influence of psycho-social support strategies in promotion of mental health among the refugee population in Dadaab refugee camp. In particular, community sensitization, local advocacy, psycho-social counseling and capacity building strategies were assessed. The study follows descriptive design; both primary and secondary methods of data collection were used to obtain information on the perceptions of the direct beneficiaries of CVT project on the influence of the strategies. Individual In depth Interviews (IDIs) and Key Informant interviews (KII) were conducted. A total of 260 respondents were interviewed during the study. This Sample size was determined using Krejcie and Morgan (1970) formula based on the target population of 786. Stratified random sampling was used to select sample size in each stratum. Questionnaire was administered to the beneficiaries and the Key Informant Interviews were conducted to the representatives of NGOs in Mental Health projects using interview guide. The target population defines those units for which the findings of the survey were meant to generalize (Dornyei, 2007). The target population for this study was 736 direct beneficiaries of Center for Victims of Torture mental health project in Dadaab Refugee Camp from 2011 – 2013 and 50 representatives from 12 NGOs in Mental Health projects. Expert opinions from the supervisor were done to help established the validity in order to collect reliable data under the guidance of the research project supervisor. Consistent data analysis was done in order to avoid errors, omissions, exaggerations and biases. All data were done with the aid of Statistical Package for Social Sciences. The study findings were therefore not only forming the basis for using better strategies on the delivery of mental services in Dadaab refugee camp but also the promotion of psychosocial support and to offer policy recommendations for donors, NGOs, Government agencies and all other relevant stakeholders. The questionnaire return rate of this study was 93.1% of which represents 242 out 260 sampled and the study generated additional and valuable knowledge on evaluation of psycho-social support strategies on the promotion of mental health in Dadaab and other refugee camps around the world. Those refugees who came to CVT received psychosocial supports, such as counselling, capacity building, referrals to other organizations, and various other psychosocial supports. The findings indicated that the psychosocial services were helpful in overcoming the traumatic experiences to a certain extent, while some of the program efforts met their needs in part. However, they faced huge challenges in the community; these included persistent stigmatization, recurring nightmares, psychological problems, loss of family members, as well as poverty and limited economic opportunities in Dadaab refugee camp. When the project beneficial (clients) left CVT centers and went back to their community, it was found that they were overwhelmed by several serious challenges, which indicates a gap and shortcoming in the provision of psychosocial services and reintegration efforts of such program in the humanitarian context. The findings therefore highlight an urgent need for donor and humanitarian communities to support, fund and empower refugees to meet their mental health challenges. A framework for improved delivery of services is also suggested. This constitutes an interactive integrated model that is based on better interaction and collaboration between the social services, the family and the community systems, in ensuring effective psychosocial support for refugees living in Dadaab refugee camps and other parts of similar situation in the world.