Returning community members in Iraq are subject to numerous stressors caused by various traumatic experiences including the experience of displacement, the struggle to preserve basic living conditions, and having to deal with the uncertainty about the future.
This mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) assessment outlines the existing mental health and psychosocial well-being needs, the causes of these needs, coping strategies of returnees, and gaps in MHPSS services in the villages of Al-Eitha and Ganous, Shirqat district, Salah Al-Din Governorate. The assessment also examines the relationships between returnees and families as well as with their neighbours and other community members.
Both qualitative and quantitative methods were used to collect data. The assessment’s findings are based on 114 meetings, reaching 166 respondents through Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) that also included surveys and Focus Group Discussions (FGD). Out of these, 29 were youth aged 15–18 years (11 girls and 18 boys) and 147 were older than 18 years (93 women; 54 men).
This assessment reveals the large gap between the need of MHPSS services among community members and provided services.
Overall, this assessment shows that 48,14 per cent of the respondents reported either moderate or very strong feeling of emotional distress. Bad living conditions and displacement are the most frequently reported causes of emotional distress, followed by traumatic experiences during displacement, loss of loved ones, traumatic experiences in the place of origin, family problems, and lack of access to basic services.
While 91,66 per cent of the respondents feel supported by their families, only 47,22 per cent feel such support from their communities. The 52,77 per cent who do not feel supported attribute this lack of support to their families’ former links to an armed group or groups.
The need for peaceful coexistence, reconciliation and tolerance stood out as the priority needs to be addressed.
Other needs included legal assistance for returning families; social security and stability; employment; psychosocial support, including individual psychological support, awareness sessions, group counselling and creating recreational areas both for adults and children; access to basic services, such as food, electricity, medicine, and education; and access to health services, as there are no medical centres in these two villages.