Seven powerful personal stories about mental health from Doctors Without Borders

As we mark World Mental Health Day 2020, read some of the most moving and meaningful mental health stories from our frontline staff

1. Mary: Unchained

The tsunami of emotions that washed over me at the sight of this, I cannot even begin to describe

US midwife Kristine Lauria writes in this powerful and personal blog from Sierra Leone, where working in a place where mental illness is poorly understood, she meets a new mum in need of psychological support and human connection.



2. "The love for your child is good": Mental health and the Rohingya crisis

This is one of the many times my cultural assumptions are challenged, and a reminder, amidst all the supposed differences, of our shared humanity

How do you care for people's mental health when the situation around them is so unstable? British mental health officer Alison Fogg shares this beautifully written blog post, detailing her experience of treating Rohingya people inside the world's largest refugee camp.



3. "We are humbled by their courage": Treating psychological trauma at sea


MSF staff on board the Ocean Viking sit with two rescued children

Many grew up in conflict areas and had to flee with their families - some have lost relatives and undertook this dangerous journey through the desert and through Libya unaccompanied

When people are pulled to safety by search and rescue teams in the Mediterranean, many carry invisible psychological wounds from the trauma that forced them to flee Libya and risk their lives at sea. Stefanie leads our medical team on board the Ocean Viking rescue ship. In this powerful post, she shares her experience of treating refugees and migrants in the onboard clinic.



4. "Imagine a safe place": Working as a psychologist with refugee children

I can see in his eyes the terror he endured. It makes me shiver

Czech mental health specialist Kateřina guides us through a week at a clinic in Jordan. Listening to stories of trauma and despair, she provides much need psychological support to vulnerable local patients and refugees – often children who have escaped conflict in nearby Syria.



5. The beauty of movement: Helping young minds in South Sudan


In those moments, all that matters, in spite of the heat, is that we are all one in movement and rhythm

Hospital is a tough environment for any child, let alone those whose families have lost almost everything. Mental health specialist Margaret explains why, despite conflict, displacement and illness, it’s vital to provide opportunities for kids to simply be kids…



6. "It shows strength to ask for help"


Asking for psychological aid is a way to resist, to become even stronger – to not give up, even if the reality becomes worse every day

Working with patients in Palestine, psychologist Marilen Osinalde explains how mental trauma can build-up over time and be shared across generations, as well as the hope that can be found in seeking support.



7. Tales of a burnt-out boy


Robert Malies working as a logistician for MSF

We are all different, with different needs, triggers and levels of tolerance... but we all have our limits

After several assignments with MSF, Robert was preparing to depart for Cameroon... but something felt wrong this time. In this deeply personal but powerful blog, the British logistician opens up about the issue of humanitarian mental health, misconceptions about stress and anxiety, and learning to find peace with himself.