Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in times of COVID-19: Neli Demi reports from Albania

One of the most recent deployments of the programme was assigning Neli Demi the position of MHPSS expert in Albania. As an Albanian national, he was able to quickly start with his assignment during the COVID-19 pandemic. His job is to assist the MHPSS response after the earthquake of November 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic. These humanitarian emergencies have had a severe impact on the lives of the Albanian people.

Neli: “On 26 November 2019, a strong earthquake hit Albania. It caused 51 deaths and destroyed many buildings. After the earthquake the coronavirus followed in March 2020. These humanitarian emergencies overlapped each other. It was difficult for the Albanian society and authorities to manage the different needs of the population.

This is what I do

The World Health Organization (WHO) Country Office for Albania prepared an MHPSS mission to meet the needs of the Albanian society after the multiple humanitarian disasters in the country. My task was to help by mapping the MHPSS resources in the country. I also assessed and tackled emergency organisational issues. Moreover, I paved the way for more emergency interventions. The Mental Health services, as all the health services, were not prepared or equipped enough for such an emergency. They all required extra attention and support. DSS’s readiness to support me became crucial for the lasting effect of the intervention.

This is what I will continue to do

During my stay in the coming 3 months, there are a lot of tasks and challenges ahead of me. My colleagues in the WHO office and my collaborators from the health authorities face the same challenges. There is a need for a more detailed assessment of the needs and resources available. It is also crucial to re-activate the National Steering Committee for Mental Health (NSCMH). This is a multisectoral organisation that assembles and approves policies and operational plans for interventions in the Mental Health field. My role is to assist the NSCMH in organising interventions that fill gaps in the system. I will also be drafting, compiling, and implementing capacity building activities for different actors and groups of professionals to serve the population in emergencies better.”

20 Jul 2020|