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Kurdistan Mental Health Project

The aim of the Kurdistan Mental Health Project is to address a gap in psychological treatment available to Iraqi Kurds scarred by traumatic legacies, be they survivors of Islamic State attacks on the Yezidis, the Iraqi government’s Anfal genocide, or the sacrifices of the Peshmerga, the Kurdish guerrilla forces.

Kurdistan Mental Health Project: Donate

About the Project

The mission of the Kurdistan Mental Health Project (KMHP) is to help overcome the psychological damage done to individuals and society over the past century in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).

In order to achieve this, the KMHP will begin a year's training to international standards for 30 young professional psychologists in new techniques of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is a family of talking therapies based on the idea that thoughts, feelings, what we do, and how our bodies feel, are all connected and is widely recommended by national treatment guidelines across the UK, the EU and North America. This treatment is almost unknown in the region, where what little psychiatric help there is only tries to cover up such problems through medication.

Our Partners

The project was designed following extensive consultation with KRI officials, academics and stakeholders in psychological treatments. Implementing and supervising the training and assessment of trainees will be the Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre (OCTC), a non-profit which collaborates with the University of Oxford and has 30 years of experience in successfully planning and running a wide variety of CBT courses, adapted to local norms around the world and a wide range of audiences from different professions, including beginners. OCTC’s expertise in war-related and other traumas are particularly important to understand the unique circumstances of Iraqi Kurdistan.

The European Technology and Training Centre (ETTC) will enable the project on the ground. Founded in 2005, ETTC is a Kurdish and Kurdistan-based non-profit organisation in Erbil that has a successful history of delivering international training programmes. In coordination with OCTC, ETTC will seek candidates from all parts of the Kurdistan region, either freshly graduated psychologists or already working in the public sector, the private sector and non-profit organizations. ETTC will host the training sessions, represent the project to the Kurdistan Regional Government, seek official recognition of the OCTC certification and communicate the project's progress in KRI media and other platforms.

The project was originally the brainchild of a group of Anglo-Kurdish mental health professionals in the UK. Their charity, KR-UK Impakt, identified the need, designed the basic concept of therapeutic training and brought together the key players who could deliver it. KR-UK Impakt will coordinate research, monitoring and evaluation and will also lead the effort to build a funding stream for the second phase of the project, which would ideally last a further three-four years to make the project self-sufficient.


Funding Our Cause

The full KMHP prospectus can be downloaded below.

The first two years of this project have been funded in the name of the journalists who worked in Iraqi Kurdistan over the past 60 years. Donations have been led by a relative of one of the reporters, who wishes to remain anonymous, but those joining in want the project to be a memento of one of those very occasional times that Westerners helped, rather than hindered, the Kurds’ long-stifled cause.

The basic elements of the first two years in which 30 practitioners will be trained and supervised have been funded, however, the continuation of the project will depend on the generosity of donors everywhere. Eventually, it is hoped that the success of the program will convince the Kurdish authorities to take on the responsibility for mental health themselves.

Smaller donations ($200 or less) can be sent to ETTC via the Just Giving link below. If funds become available, they will be used to help trainee practitioners meet each other for a training day in the ETTC main office in Erbil once per quarter. They may also be used to give a small prize to students who make the most progress during the year or to make emergency gifts to support trainees if needed.

Larger donations may be used to start building up funds for years three to six. If you would like more information about this, please contact us.

Kurdistan Mental Health Project: Text
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