On January 31, 2017, SEED Foundation launched the Center for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services (MHPSS) at Koya University in the Kurdistan Region. The Center for MHPSS will serve to strengthen the quality of mental health and psychosocial support services through ongoing education, training and supervision.

The center was launched following the first meeting of its Advisory Board attended by Dr. Wali M. Hamad, Koya University President, Dr. Yousif Goran, Minister of Higher Education, Dr. Rakawt Hama Rashid, Minister of Health, Dr. Noori O. Abdulrahman, Head of the Department of Coordination and Follow-up, Sherri Kraham Talabany and Tanya Gilly Khailany of the SEED Foundation. The Kurdistan Region’s Deputy Prime Minister, Qubad J. Talabani, and the US Consul General Ken Gross also joined for the ribbon-cutting.

Mental health crisis

As a result of brutal campaign by ISIS and a history of conflict, violence and displacement in Iraq, the Kurdistan Region now faces a mental health crisis. With almost two million displaced Iraqis and Syrians in the Kurdistan Region, local capacity to meet the needs of the population is overwhelmed. SEED Foundation provides much-needed mental health and psychosocial support services to those affected by the conflict, including survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. These services including therapy, case management, recreational activities, livelihood and life skills training for women, men and children. However, there is a critical lack of qualified mental health professionals to effectively respond to the growing needs of survivors.

To address this challenge, the SEED Foundation is partnering with Koya University to build a professional workforce of MHPSS providers. The Center for MHPSS will serve as a learning space for education, training and supervision programs aimed at improving the quality of MHPSS services throughout the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. SEED and Koya University will collaborate to strengthen Koya University’s undergraduate Clinical Psychology Program, offer continuing education workshops to MHPSS practitioners and students, and host a 6-month Psychosocial Support Services (PSS) Training Program. This PSS Program integrates comprehensive training and supervision for MHPSS providers with a certificate from an accredited university. The Center also provides the opportunity for service providers in Kurdistan to work together to share and foster best practices in MHPSS delivery. This program is generously supported by the US Government.

To find out more about this program, please visit Strengthening MHPSS Services, or to find out about our classes, contact MHPSSCenter@gmail.com