Common Iraqi Attitudes on Mental Health, Responses to Trauma, and Implications for Treatment

This webinar, from May 14, 2008, features Husam Abdulkhaleq and Abdallah Boumediene of ACCESS.

This webinar is part of the National Capacity Building (NCB) webinar series. NCB is a project of the Center for Victims of Torture.

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Wednesday, 14 May 2008

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Summary:

This webinar sheds light on Iraqi attitudes toward mental health treatment and response to trauma. The objectives are to identify perspectives on mental health and reasons for stigmatization of psychological distress, to describe Iraqi responses to trauma and differences with newer arrivals, and to identify key aspects of the ACCESS psychosocial rehabilitation model for torture survivors. Iraqis are described as a “shame” society, where mental illness is often seen as a weakness that is brought about by an external entity or spirit (jinn), or a neurotic response to a physical ailment (headache or stomachache). Traditionally, Iraqis would visit their religious leaders, traditional healers, and then a medical provider to remedy their mental illness. The speaker’s goal is for the viewer to “understand the impact of your client’s cultural and religious background on his or her understanding of mental health before providing psychological treatment or psychiatric services.” Key aspects of the ACCESS Psychological Rehabilitation Model are: a holistic philosophy and approach, primary medical care, medications, psychotherapy (group therapy), physical therapy, social services (legal, spiritual), employment, and social club activities.

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