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Core concept

KCL – KR-UK Impakt - KRI

The KR-UK Impakt core is a mixed group of mental health and health professionals with a strong focus on trying to improve mental health provision in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). The group has benefitted from a broad network of support and advice from academics, civil society, government officials and others.

KRI is a ‘safe haven’ within a troubled region. It is relatively safe; its government has tolerance as a mantra. As Covid dies down, KRI would be a good, if challenging, place from which to deliver mental health services to its people and to ‘pre-position’ mental health support for refugees, IDPs and Iraqis.

After extensive dialogue with stakeholders in KRI, we are working on having an impact in several aspects of mental health in Kurdistan Region of Iraq, a part of the world that has suffered traumatic events for several decades and whose people have very limited access to mental health resources.

· Using the ‘task-sharing’ principle, prepare a plan to upskill community health workers in mental health awareness and their capacity to respond. This will be based on WHO training and delivered by local but professional HR-focused training organizations. We are working up a detailed proposal and are excited to be starting a pilot project with the fine people of ETTC in Erbil..

· Translating and making available mental health apps to address milder forms of depression/anxiety considering social media usage trends, gender access and cultural suitability. This would be supported by a social media driven anti-stigma campaign.

· Facilitating partnerships between UK and KRI academics/practitioners to create a new cadre of talking cure professionals. UK universities’ commitment to teaching, research and service make them ideal KRI partners. UK academics are already conducting DFID, now FCDO research into the interaction between conflict and mental health, including in Iraq. UK universities could start to provide solutions – the teaching and service element in its core identity – while continuing structured research. From initial discussions, DFID now FCDO seems interested. We would look to work with UK universities on a range of options:

o summer schools

o Series of hybrid modules to lead to certification/diploma courses in mental health interventions.

o Masters level CBT courses

We assume teaching would be in English given suitable proficiency with supervised intervention in Kurdish

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