Mental Health Services in Haiti

The majority of the Haitians live in psychological fragile state. They have been dealing with elevated chronic life stress for many years where the basics of daily life do not come easily.


The everyday lives of common Haitians pass in abject poverty which takes toll on their nature and psychological functioning. As per recent U.N report, 55% of the population lives with less than $1.25 per day and 58% of them are undernourished. The massive earthquake of 2010 has cracked in the psychic structures for those vulnerable to mental illness and aggravated the suffering of many others with invisible wounds. It has taken away the ability to function effectively as possible.

Before this earthquake, mental health care was practically non-extent in Haiti; it had never been a priority. Fifteen percent of the national budget is allotted on health but less than 5% is spent on mental health. The tremor took 222,750 lives, 80,000 bodies were missing, 1.5 million people were displaced and 188,383 houses were either damaged or destroyed. International Organization for Migration (IOM) has recognized enormous changes in the psychological and behavioral pattern of millions of Haitians. The most common conditions associated with the earthquake are drug-related mental disorders, agitation, schizophrenia, epilepsy, delusional and bipolar disorders.

Their study reveals that the people are anxious and depressed with issues like overcrowding, lack of basic amenities and law and order problems. Thirty two percent of the people surveyed are found to be depressed of three main reasons-- panic attacks, serious withdrawal or suicide attempts. Their survey conducted on a measuring scale of 1 to 5, where 5 being the maximum, 60% of the person interviewed was on pain level of '5'. Their primary needs revealed in descending order were: housing, health, work and security. They do not have capacity or inclination to see a psychologist but prefer to visit a person of voodoo. Haitians are found to be more inclined to the religious people because they are well connected with good influence in the community.

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