MSF launches day center for mental health In Tchambarak, Armenia

Yerevan/Tchambarak - Today, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) expands its mental health program in the Armenian province of Gegharkunik, with the official opening of a 'Day Center' for mental health in the town of Tchambarak. The 'Day Center', which is being launched in partnership with the NGO 'Mission Armenia' and the cooperation of the municipality of Tchambarak, aims to improve support for people with mental health problems. This is the second 'Day Center' for mental health that MSF has opened in the region. A third is due to open in the town of Gavar at the beginning of March. The centers, which are free of charge, guarantee confidentiality to their visitors. A wide variety of therapeutic activities are provided with the assistance of the services of psychologists, animators, and social workers. "People with mental health problems are a particularly vulnerable group in Armenia," said Tido von Schoen-Angerer, MSF Head of Mission in Armenia. "The 'Day Centers' aim to be a place for learning and mutual understanding so that we can bridge the gap between our beneficiaries and society. Our main objectives are to help people to improve their communication skills, find ways to improve relations with their family and friends, and create an opportunity for them to reconstruct their lives" MSF has been working with mental health in the region since 2002. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Armenia, MSF set up a Mental Health Center in Sevan offering psychiatric outpatient care and psycho-social support through a multidisciplinary team approach. This pilot project introduces a holistic approach to mental health problems and presently provides support to 400 people. Recently, in January-February 2004, MSF provided 270 needy families of Tchambarak with blankets, electric heaters and electricity to offset the harsh conditions of winter. The region of Tchambarak, lies along the war-torn border with Azerbaijan. It was badly affected by the conflict between the two countries over Nargorno-Karabakh between 1991 and 1994 and is host to a refugee population of 120 to 140 families. MSF has been active in Armenia since the Spitak earthquake in 1988. Apart from 'Day Centers' and outpatient support for people with mental health problems in Gegharkunik, MSF also has a STI/HIV Harm Reduction project in Tavush, and a Street Children program in Yerevan. Medecins Sans Frontieres is an international humanitarian non-governmental organization. MSF offers assistance to populations in distress, to victims of natural or man-made disasters and to victims of armed conflict, without discrimination and irrespective of race, religion, creed or political affiliation. MSF is active in more than 80 countries around the world.