Project for Mentally Ill Survivors in South Sudan: Transforming the Present, Shaping the Future

As South Sudan emerges from 30 years of civil war, we face the current situation:

1. Infrastructure destroyed.

2. War, trauma, violence, tropical diseases, illicit drugs, alcohol abuse, and poverty created huge numbers mentally ill. South Sudan has 10 million people. Population ratings of PTSD are above 35%.

3. Most mental health care is provided by non-medical traditional healers, community leaders, and religious leaders based on tradition, superstition, and religious beliefs.

4. A Large population of homeless mentally ill wander unsupervised and are harmed. The mentally ill are kept in chains, locked compounds, and jails without treatment.

5. Paucity of trained mental health care providers. Currently, South Sudan has only 1 practicing psychiatrist, 5 psychologists, and 24 mental health trainees.

With so few health care professionals and such a large population in need, we need effective programs that require few providers to serve large populations, require no specialized equipment or medications, and will be accepted in communities accustomed to traditional healing practices. We need a program for which we can rapidly train providers. Breath-Body-Mind matches well with our situation. Using materials provided by this program and the training of 24 psychologists, we will develop these psychologists as a starting point for a country-wide breathing and meditation program aimed at helping with stress management and reducing the burden of psychological distress.