UNRWA Supports Community Mental Health

11 October 2013
UNRWA Supports Community Mental Health

West Bank

On the occasion of World Mental Health Day, on 10 October, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and An-Najah National University organized a conference, chaired by President of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas, on mental health in the West Bank. Entitled ’Community Mental Health: Reality and Perceptions’, the Nablus conference aimed to combat the stigma associated with mental health issues.

Approximately 250 experts from organizations working in the fields of mental health and counselling services participated in the event. Many presented their research and the results of their social work. Dr Sylvie Mansour, who played a vital role in the development of the UNRWA mental health programme, was honoured for her professional accomplishments and work in the field of mental health, including in the development of Master’s-level modules for the Community and Public Health Institute at Birzeit University.

The Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank, Felipe Sanchez, presented the achievements of the UNRWA Community Mental Health Programme in 2012. Mr Sanchez said that despite financial difficulties, UNRWA was committed to emphasizing mental health care for Palestine refugee communities throughout its work in health, education and relief and social services.

The conference focused on three main themes: counselling services in schools, counselling services in health centres, and community counselling and guidance services for the community as a whole. It shed light not only on the current status of community mental health services in the occupied Palestinian territory, but also on the future needs of Palestine refugees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Background Information

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.