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Transforming Refugee Mental Health

The UCDAR Consortium has launched a pilot project in Arab countries that are affected directly by the Syrian refugee crisis. UCDAR Consortium will develop a culturally-sensitive, gender-sensitive training program in refugee mental health, telemedicine, health informatics, and mobile health for primary care doctors and nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, medical, nursing, and public health students, refugee community health workers, and refugees.

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Syrian refugee crisis has displaced more than 5 million people. Many of them have fled to neighboring countries including Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan. Syrian refugees struggle with the violence and trauma that they have experienced, and the extreme poverty they confront in host countries. They are also living alongside other vulnerable populations in host countries. Depleted resources, the high cost of living and restricted livelihood opportunities due to lack of access to employment and legal residency are making it difficult for these families to meet their basic needs. The overall situation is exacerbated by weak economic growth in many host countries, and overstretched resources and services. The Syrian crisis has created a vast need for health and psycho-social services inside Syria and in surrounding countries. Existing mental health services in host countries are often inadequate to meet these needs.

The Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan 2016-2017 In Response to the Syria Crisis was developed under the leadership of national authorities in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt with support from the United Nations and NGOs to ensure protection, humanitarian assistance and strengthen resilience. The Plan emphasizes a two-fold strategy to address the health crisis stemming from the refugee crisis: strengthen the capacity of public health infrastructure in countries with large numbers of Syrian refugees, and provide direct and targeted support to the most vulnerable populations who lack access to critical health services.

The UCDAR Consortium project will directly support this strategy.  The project will collect needed data through research, and develop and implement training, to provide critical mental health care for both refugees and other vulnerable populations in regional contexts.  The project will incorporate cultural and gender understanding and sensitivity throughout the research and data collection, certificate training programs, and monitoring and evaluation.

Involved Faculty:


Dr. Patrick Marius Koga, Assistant Professor, Division of Epidemiology, Department of Public Health Sciences, UC Davis School of Medicine


Dr. Suad Joseph, Distinguished Research Professor, Anthropology, and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, UC Davis


Dr. Fouad Mohamed Fouad, Assistant Research Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut (AUB)


Dr. Kate Ellis, Assistant Professor of Psychology, American University in Cairo (AUC)


Dr. Rita Giacaman, Professor of Public Health, Institute of Community and Public Health, Birzeit University (BZU)


Dr. Carmel H. Bouclaous, Assistant Professor, Gilbert & Rose-Marie Chagoury School of Medicine, Lebanese American University (LAU)

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