In Thailand, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provides mental healthcare to people affected by years of unrest in the deep south, an area with a majority Muslim population near the Malaysian border.
The project aims to support the most vulnerable people, particularly those who may be hesitant to seek care in Thailand.
In 2019, while continuing to run counselling centres in Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat provinces, we started to work in collaboration with government service providers, including public hospitals, and other NGOs, to offer medical care and social support, such as help with access to education and the job market.
We also increased our outreach programme of community-based engagement activities, particularly in Yala and Narathiwat provinces. This enabled our teams to provide support in areas where little medical care is available.
The focus of activities was raising awareness of mental health issues. By taking a preventive approach, we were able to reach people who had not yet experienced violent incidents and help them learn to develop mechanisms to cope with any future events. Our teams ran these activities, which included psychoeducation and psychological first-aid training, not only in our counselling centres, but also at times in mosques, schools and other locations within communities where there had been a large number of incidents.
MSF continues to share information and knowledge with local networks, groups and both state and non-state entities on various aspects of mental health, to strengthen their capacity and improve referral pathways to our facilities.