Launching the “Mental Health Toolkit”, an opensource resource for NGOs on psychological well-being
Today we’re launching the “Mental Health Toolkit”, a tool NGOs can use to battle the negative effects abuse has on the victims’ psychological well-being. Not only can this Toolkit be used to offer support workers a basic understanding of symptoms, causes, and treatments for the psychological conditions that are experienced by victims of abuse and violence, but it can also be used to raise awareness on mental health issues as well as to help women who have undergone abuse understand what they are feeling and experiencing in a way that empowers them to take the necessary steps for their own mental health.
Here at Chayn we understand the direct effect abuse has on the victim’s mental health, as there are numerous studies which demonstrate that:
- 63% of women who suffered from depression reported having experienced abuse at some point in their life, with 55% having been abused as adults by a family member or someone they knew well, such as a partner .
- Enduring domestic violence has been found to be a risk factor for suicide .
- Being exposed to a violent intimate relationship is associated with self-harm and attempted suicide  with 25% of victims of domestic assault engaging in self-harming behaviours .
- Being subjected to abuse by a partner has also been found to be a significant risk factor for suicidal thinking .
- Most attempters of deliberate self-harm may have experienced more than one form of domestic violence 
- Verbal and emotional abuse is common and these can also lead to feelings of intimidation, emotional trauma, depression, and suicidal attempts .
- 64% of battered women were found to be suffering from PTSD, and 48% had depression .
WHAT THE TOOLKIT DOES
Abuse does not discriminate, and women from all social and financial backgrounds may experience some form of abuse at any point in their life. This can result in a number of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. However, some may not be in a position to recognise that they are suffering from a mental health disorder or the relationship between the negative effects they are experiencing and the abuse they have endured. Furthermore, due to the lack of resources available to most NGOs and charity organizations, such as expert support (on-team psychologists), training for support workers, or even time for research and training, the psychological health of these victims is often not made a top priority. Hence, we created this Toolkit to help people identify their situation, realise how that has been affected by the abuse they have been subjected to, and become informed on the available ways of dealing with their disorder. Similarly, it can be used by NGOs so as to fully understand the complexities of the psychological trauma victims of abuse are dealing with, as well as inform them of available treatments and coping mechanisms.
In order to achieve this, we tried to write the Toolkit in an easy-to-follow manner, while covering each subject as widely as possible. The content has been written by psychologists and with the goal of offering accurate and up-to-date information. Each topic covers the symptoms, causes, factors, and effects of abuse, while a section elaborating on some of the most popular and effective psychological interventions is provided. Lastly, a table which collects all symptoms for each disorder mentioned is given for easy identification of each condition, and a list of ways of utilising the Toolkit is included.
While the Toolkit is not meant to replace a professional diagnosis or treatment, the information it provides should help identify each disorder by its symptoms, as well as create a better understanding of the nature of each disorder, how abuse affects it, and how it can be treated so that both survivors and NGOs recognize what steps they should take for each individual case.
THE PROCESS OF DEVELOPING THE TOOLKIT
We started working on a Mental Health section in May 2013 while we were writing material for the launch of chaynpakistan.org, the first country-specific platform we built. Today, June 2015, with a group of volunteers we decided to gather all available information related to mental health and abuse so as to create an easy to use Toolkit. Thank you to Nida, Sheena and Brittany for working on this guide on their spare time and sharing their expertise generously. This would not have been possible without you!
Here’s how we worked on the guide:
- Hera and I spent a couple of hours brainstorming and creating a basic structure for a Mental Health section to include in chaynpakistan.org in May 2013.
- We then researched which mental health conditions were associated with abuse by going through scientific journal articles and books as well as online resources.
- I wrote the sections on depression, anxiety, PTSD, self-harm and suicidal thinking, and treatments between June and July 2013. This April, 2015, Shyma wrote an article on Stockholm Syndrome.
- Then we got more volunteers involved so as to incorporate all the material into one Mental Health Toolkit. Nida, Hera and I began writing additional content, including a welcome message, disclaimer, table of symptoms and ways of utilizing the Toolkit. In the meanwhile, Nida, Sheena, and Brittany were in charge of the editing process to ensure there were no mistakes and typos. After the girls had provided us with their comments, Nida, Hera and I went through them making any changes when necessary.
- The last stage involved Hera designing the Toolkit, and creating the Toolkit cover.
THE NEXT STEPS….
We would like to see these guides being translated into different languages and being taken up by NGOs as a resource.
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Like what we do? Want to help? Here’s what you can do:
- Share the Toolkit with at least one person or share it on social media.
- Help us translate it into your native language! Know anyone who would like to volunteer for it? Sign up.
- Send the guide to an NGO,or organisation you know of who could be directing their community to the guide and use it for their work.
 Scholle, S. H., Rost, K. M., & Golding, J. M. (1998). Physical abuse among depressed women. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 13, 607-613.  Ali, B.S., Rahbar, M.H., Naeem, S., Tareen, A.L., Gul, A., & Samad, L. (2002) as cited in Haqqi, S. (2008). Suicide and Domestic Violence: Could There Be a Correlation? The Medscape Journal of Medicine, 10(12), 287.  Barrios, L.C., Evertt, S.A., Simon, T.R., & Brener N.D. (2000) as cited in Haqqi, S. (2008). Suicide and Domestic Violence: Could There Be a Correlation? The Medscape Journal of Medicine, 10(12), 287.  Boyle, A., Jones, P., & Lloyd, S. (2006). The association between domestic violence and self harm in emergency medicine patients. Emergency Medicine Journal, 23, 604-607.  Plichta, S. B., & Weisman, C. S. (1995). Spouse or partner abuse, use of health services, and unmet need for medical care in U.S. women. Journal of Women’s Health, 4, 45-53.  Stark, E., Flitcraft, A., & Frazier, W. (1979). Medicine and patriarchal violence: the social construction of a “private” event. International Journal of Health Services, 9, 461-493.  Chowdhury, A.N., Brahma, A., Banerjee, S., & Biswas, M.K. (2009). Pattern of domestic violence amongst non-fatal deliberate self-harm attempters: A study from primary care of West Bengal. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 51(2), 96-100.  Sheikh, M.A. (2000, 2003) as cited in Haqqi, S. (2008). Suicide and Domestic Violence: Could There Be a Correlation? The Medscape Journal of Medicine, 10(12), 287.  Golding, J. M. (1999). Intimate partner violence as a risk factor for mental disorders: A meta-analysis. Journal of Family Violence, 14, 99-132.
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