World Bank Gathering Focuses on Mental Health

NASW was represented at a World Bank meeting where organizers discussed psychosocial and mental health service delivery models for war-torn and post-war countries, particularly Afghanistan.

Amy Bess, senior practice associate for Human Rights and International Affairs at NASW, participated in the meeting, which was sponsored by the World Bank's South Asia Regional Unit and the Health, Nutrition, and Population Sector of the Human Development Network.

The event, "Psychosocial Health in (Post) Conflict Situations: The Forgotten Emergency," was an opportunity to present to the 50 attendees a social work approach to establishing community-based psychosocial and mental health programs.

"I outlined approaches that social workers take when addressing the psychosocial well-being of communities in war-affected countries," Bess said. "We promote culturally relevant interventions that build on traditional community support systems."

The meeting was an opportunity for the South Asia Regional Unit and the Health, Nutrition, and Population Sector of the Human Development Network to hear from external experts on designing psychosocial programs, especially for people in Afghanistan who have been involved in constant war and insecurity for more than 20 years.

Organizers said not only do conflict situations increase the demand for regular basic health services, there is also an increase in psychosocial trauma that often remains unrecognized and undefined. Such traumas may leave long-term legacies that severely affect the successful development of a country.

Bess said she answered questions from the attendees about the ways social workers are educated and trained to assist people suffering from traumatic experiences.

The main speaker at the event was Willem van de Put, general director of HealthNet TPO and a cultural anthropologist and specialist in collective trauma and rehabilitation.

The World Bank serves as a source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world. It is made up of two development institutions owned by 186 member countries. Each institution plays a different but collaborative role to advance the vision of an inclusive and sustainable globalization.

As the World Bank, it provides low-interest loans, interest-free credits and grants to developing countries for things like investments in education, health, public administration, infrastructure, financial and private sector development, agriculture and environmental and natural resource management.

Last year, the World Bank provided $46.9 billion for 303 projects in developing countries worldwide, with financial and/or technical expertise aimed at helping those countries reduce poverty.