In Mexico, MSF teams provide medical and psychosocial consultations to refugees and migrants fleeing violence and poverty in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. Many of our patients have experienced torture, rape, and other acts of extreme violence in their home countries and along the migration route. MSF provides primary and mental health care at shelters along the route. Many patients need additional follow-up and support after their one-shot consultation, but this is very difficult to provide, as we do not know where people go after they leave the shelters. The routes are various and on top of that migrants do not want to be found.
The Displacement Unit spent a month in Mexico to understand the reality, concerns and aspirations of migrants from the Northern triangle of South America and those of the MSF teams on the ground. Observations, engagements and interviews let to a list of insights. For example, migrants showed us the few things they carry, and at the same time how well they care for it, especially if the items are of special value and moreover if they are aesthetically beautiful. These insights led to the development of a concept of pocket-size self-help cards: visually-appealing and user-friendly mental health exercises to take on the route.
Self-help cards with mental health exercises are used and later given to patients during the psychological consultation. The psychologist chooses several cards from a set of 10, specific to the symptoms of each patient. During the consultation, the patient gets familiarized with the exercises and afterwards he can take the pocket-size cards on his journey. The cards will support patients anytime during their journey, offering a mental aid to the short practical exercises related to their condition.
This concept can also be used in other contexts where people are on the move. Adaptations to text and figures can be made to make the cards culturally appropriate.