Upstate News

March 23, 2006
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

SUNY Upstate professor heads to the Middle East to discuss rebuilding Iraq’s mental health system

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – While experts discuss ways to rebuild Iraq’s war weary infrastructure, others are addressing the country’s medical needs, especially as they relate to mental health.

A delegation of mental health experts heading to the Middle East next week will include Mantosh Dewan, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry at SUNY Upstate Medical University, who will be a key presenter at a conference addressing rebuilding Iraq’s mental health system. Dewan leaves for Egypt March 25.

Experts, led by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, are attempting to provide Iraq with a blueprint that will assist in the creation of a community-based mental healthcare system.

A significant need, experts say, is for Iraqi psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and nurses to be trained in psychiatric best practices. Much of the access to and understanding of best practices in mental healthcare was extremely limited due to the sanctions imposed under the Saddam Hussein.

“We need to assist and encourage Iraqi mental health professionals to develop an effective and efficient mental health system by implementing practices that evidence shows are beneficial and successful,” said Dewan.

The first planning session was to be held in December in Baghdad, but due to ongoing violence, the session’s location was moved elsewhere.

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