Promoting Awareness During World Mental Health Month in Sudan

Gedaref – The International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) EU-IOM Joint Initiative commemorated World Mental Health Day through implementing community-based Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support (MHPSS) activities in Gedaref and Khartoum states by organizing a four-day programme.

Sudan's current mental health landscape is exacerbated by lack of psychiatric infrastructure that limits access to mental healthcare for foreign migrants, returnees, and internally displaced persons.

“Many migrants and refugees arriving in Eastern Sudan have had difficult journeys fraught with protection and gender-based violence (GBV) risks. Through MHPSS activities, IOM has been improving their mental well-being. The right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health has long been established in international human rights law” – Hassan El Maaroufi, IOM’s Regional Coordinator for Eastern Sudan, and the Blue Nile region.

The programme kicked off with a seminar that discussed the importance of mental health and psychosocial support. It was attended by 60 participants, including returnees and their families, migrants, community leaders, and humanitarian activists. To enhance cultural exchange the seminar featured a cultural show that included various dances from diverse cultures. A three-day mental health radio campaign that was broadcasted in three local languages (Arabic, Tigrinya, and Hausa) to reach the diverse communities in Eastern Sudan. 

Through three focus group discussions, 40 participants discussed MHPSS support provided by different government sectors, the challenges, plans and the role of IOM in building the capacity of partners on mental health and other related areas of protection were in focus. The importance of psychoeducation/raising awareness to increase self-care was highlighted.

A football match for 200 youth was held in Gedaref to raise awareness on mental health and to encourage them to engage in more physical activities as well as incorporate sports as part of their lifestyles. Medals were awarded to all the participants. Recreational and structured activities are powerful tools to promote social inclusion and cohesion, therefore, creating a sense of community and togetherness.

Students from Gedaref University received mental health education and were informed about how mental health is critical before, during and after the migration journey. The students participated actively in the session and shared their own thoughts and experiences. Information was also provided about the risks of irregular migration in order to promote safe, regular, orderly migration pathways.

In Khartoum, IOM partnered with Rural Community Development Organization (RCDO) to raise awareness among students from Umbadah block-5 Elementary School.

"Mental health is not something we discuss in my family or community. I would like to learn more about it and educate my family members and peers," said Rawan, a sixth grader attending Umbadah block-5 Elementary.


For more information, please contact:

Linda Onias at IOM Sudan Email:

Fathia Amin at IOM Sudan, Email:  

Muthoni Annie Njenga at IOM RO Nairobi, Email: