This year’s World Mental Health Day comes as the world is grappling with a global pandemic that has taken a toll on all of us. In light of these circumstances, an increased investment and effort in mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) is more crucial now than ever before. 

At SAMS, we have seen the lasting, positive impact of mental health and psychosocial support on the many civilians who have been affected by almost a decade of conflict. 

Children’s mental health has been especially hard-hit by the conflict. Over 7.5 million Syrian children under the age of nine have known nothing but violence, displacement, and loss. They have been traumatized by bombardment, stifling siege, and callous disregard for human life. Over 2 million Syrian children are currently not in school, and many more are at risk of dropping out. 

Through our MHPSS programming in Syria and neighboring countries, SAMS is providing essential services to help the most vulnerable cope with the effects of trauma and overcome the resulting fear, anxiety, and social isolation. 

Thanks to support from the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, SAMS is partnering with the Take My Hand Social Assistance Association to provide specialized behavioral health services to Syrian refugee children in Istanbul with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The program will support a total of 80 children over the next two years, providing each of them with development and learning sessions that are tailored to their needs. 

In Lebanon, SAMS continues to support a number of MHPSS programs in the Beka’a Valley to address the psychological effects of displacement and trauma on the wellbeing of refugees, many of whom are children. The PSS program aims to provide participants with safe spaces where they can get together, develop social bonds, and learn skills and positive coping mechanisms that will help them deal with the challenges that they face. This program serves children, adolescents, and their parents. In June 2020, SAMS launched a virtual program to provide psychological support to members of the community who were deeply impacted by the pandemic. 

With generous support from the Schooner Foundation, SAMS continues to implement MHPSS and gender-based violence (GBV) programming in Amman and Irbid, Jordan. The MHPSS outreach team also conducts ongoing training for our mental health providers and social workers to best address the needs of our beneficiaries. 

In northwest Syria, we have established MHPSS programs in 23 SAMS medical facilities led by skilled and trained social workers to address the immense gap in MHPSS provision amongst displaced individuals who continue to endure displacement, conflict, and COVID-19. 

Despite the urgent and overwhelming need for mental health services for conflict-affected populations, these services remain underfunded. We at SAMS are committed to ensuring that those impacted by crisis receive MHPSS services, uninterrupted and free of charge, to help rebuild lives and restore hope for a better future. 

On this World Mental Health Day, we ask you to join us as advocates for increased investment in mental health and to consider making a gift to SAMS as we continue providing vital MHPSS services. 

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