SYDNEY, June 12 (Xinhua) -- People living in countries that have experienced armed conflict are five times more likely to develop anxiety or depression, according to a joint study released on Wednesday by the University of Queensland (UoQ), the University of Washington and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
UoQ researcher Dr. Fiona J Charlson told Xinhua that by collating existing studies of individual warzones, the new results painted a far clearer picture as to the extent of the problem.
"When you are defining policy response and designing health services, for these populations, you really need to know what the magnitude of the problem is," Charlson said.
"Given the vast numbers of people in need and the humanitarian imperative to reduce suffering, there is an urgent need to implement scalable mental health interventions to address this burden."
According to Charslon, as well as the direct trauma of violence, for many people the difficulty of living that goes with prolonged conflict also weighs heavily on mental health.
"Poverty is endemic in wars, and this has strong links to mental illness which we can see reflected in the findings," she said.
"There is also the increased stress involved as people try to go about their normal day, finding food and trying to make an income amongst the conflict."
Charlson and colleagues' results are expected to be used by WHO to push for further consideration of mental health issues during humanitarian crises.
Current guidelines include the WHO Humanitarian Intervention Guide and Problem Management Plus, which have sought to address the issue without fully understanding its extent.
"Now that we have a broader view of what the real need is, that will inform the implementation of those programs," Charlson said.