Refugees are often survivors of trauma and violence in their home countries. Many refugees are also subject to stress and suffering during the difficult process of crossing the border and resettling in their host country. As a result, many displaced persons, both children and adults, have an increased likelihood to suffer from mental health illnesses such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In order to provide Syrian refugees in Jordan with a safe place to seek psychosocial support, the JNRCS has opened psychosocial support centres in Amman, Ajloun, Aqaba, and Jerash. In 2016, the Psychosocial Support Programme reached 36,625 people. These centres have been made possible with the support of the Danish, Italian, and French Red Cross societies and the IFRC.
JNRCS psychosocial centres offer a wide variety of programming so their team of volunteers and professionals can meet the needs of every demographic. Group therapy sessions are conducted over three month periods with one, hour-long session held each week. Each session is dedicated to an important mental health topic such as trust, communication or parenting skills and child protection. Groups are separated by age and gender to provide refugees with the most individualized care possible. Groups of young children mainly engage in art projects and games, older children participate in writing workshops and adults mainly concentrate on group discussions. Pre-tests and post-tests are given to monitor the progress and outcomes of the sessions.
Importantly, the centres are for all community members, not just Syrian refugees. Around 30% of the people who come to the centres are Jordanians and Iraqis. As a result, Syrians are not only able to seek psychosocial support at the centres, but have a chance to integrate into their communities as well by sharing experiences and forming new friendships. The centre in Amman occasionally hosts day trips to places such as the Dead Sea, giving families a day to escape their worries and learn more about their host country. They provide recreational spaces and homework help for the children. JNRCS also partners with local and international NGOs, allowing them to make referrals for refugees who may suffer from health problems or who are in need of additional therapy.
The high demand for the centres’ services and the long-term mental health benefits it has granted countless people, prove just how successful these centres are. Some programme participants even return as volunteers. Employees of the centres note just how big of an impact psychosocial support can have on individuals’ lives. Most important to the JNRCS is that everyone leaves the centres with greater strength and confidence to meet life’s challenges than when they arrived.