UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Mental health crisis in Somalia: a review and a way forward Ibrahim, Mohamed; Rizwan, H.; Afzal, M.; Malik, Mamunur R.


Background Somalia has been without an effective government since the collapse of the military regime in 1991. Years of conflict, disasters, and insecurity have all contributed to very low scores for most health indicators due to poor governance, protracted conflict, underdevelopment, economic decline, poverty, social and gender inequality, and environmental degradation. The three-decade long protracted conflict has led to widespread psychosocial trauma, social deprivation and substance abuse with devastating consequences on mental health. A WHO study showed Somalia has one of the highest rates of mental illness in the world. The main aim of this study is to assist policy makers in setting priorities for the design and delivery of interventions to promote mental health and psychosocial wellbeing in Somalia. Methods The study uses a systematic mapping technique (from January 1991 to May 2020) and data collected from public domain, to collect, collate, and present mental health data mainly from WHO’s Global Health Observatory. Since there is no primary database for Somalia’s public health research, the bibliographic databases used for mental health in this study included Medline, PubMed, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and Google Scholar. Data were extracted using techniques for web data mining for public health. Results Systematic mapping of mental health-related issues in Somalia showed that policy-related determinants and mental health services dominated (74.4%), followed by the disaster-related determinants and women’s health consequences (39.3%). The ratio of the number of beds for mental health in general hospitals (per 100,000 population) in Somalia in 2017 is 0.5 compared to the Eastern Mediterranean region (EMR) at 6.4 and globally at 24. One of the biggest casualties of the civil war was loss of essential human resources in healthcare as most either fled the country or were part of the victims of the war. Conclusions The vast scale of the mental health problems in Somalia and the priority setting guidelines for interventions to address the issues outlined in this paper, prompt a dire need that the Somali government and its national/international partners should prioritize and emphasize the need to invest in the prevention and the treatment of mental illness across the country.

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