Self-help card to Support Mental Health of People on the Move in Mexico

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Master Graduation – September 2017 In Central America, the migrant crisis has grown more complicated over past years. It is estimated that about 500,000 migrants cross Mexican border every year. Most of the population is escaping from the extreme violence in the countries known as the Northern Triangle of Central America – Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. The highest homicide rate indicates the traumatic experience the migrants have been through such as torture, kidnap, gang-related crimes and extortion. Yet, it is ironic that the migrants go through even more violence on the route seeking for safety. On the journey, the people on the move are easily targeted for organised crime, theft, torture and sexual violence. This leads to a serious health condition that challenges both mentally and physically. Meanwhile, a vulnerable status of the undocumented migrants prevents them to actively seeking a protection let alone the access to the healthcare. Since 2012, Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF), the international medical humanitarian organisation, has been providing medical and mental health care to the migrants in Mexico. Their aim is to address the needs of the displaced people in Central America, who escaped from violence, conflicts or life-threatening policies or practices. These migrants are traveling in order to seek for refugee status in the destination country, mostly the United States of America.MSF has already implemented emergency health posts where the patients can reach out during their migrant journey. However, it provides only a limited access to the medical support which cannot be more than one-time intervention. Consequently, it seems timely and necessary to understand the current situation and the MSF approach and come up with a new and innovative way to provide support and extended intervention.This project has started exploring this challenge with MSF Displacement Unit. The literature research has provided a good understanding of the societal and medical background of MSF operation. In order to understand the context better, the field research has been conducted in Mexico. This led to explore four opportunity areas and start ideation with the field team. In the field, the solutions were briefly tested to determine the final direction. After coming back to the Netherlands, the idea was developed further into the concept. Communicating with the field team, the design was evaluated and iterated. The final design is a card-set “Taking care of your emotions.” It is consist of information about MSF and self-facilitated psychological exercises to serve mental health needs of the migrants during the journey in Mexico. The concept serves these two different objectives; (i) to support the current consultation and (ii) empower the resilient ability of the migrants. The final design was received positively by MSF field team and some of the migrants who participated in the evaluation study.