The 14 million Syrian refugees face dire conditions and live with little or no support while scattered in various countries in the Middle East and in Europe, a population with high rates of trauma and with little access to counseling and treatment. Very few studies have focused on the mental health of refugees due to the challenges of conducting field research, yet small surveys done by relief services on the ground have found lifetime prevalence of PTSD of 35.4%, and a point prevalence of 27.2% among adults. Research suggests that these traumatic experiences may contribute to refugees developing a constellation of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, disordered attachments, and trauma based illnesses including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Many Syrian refugee have a greater degree of difficulty adjusting to their new settings and integrating into communities in host countries due to the trauma.
Conscious of the problem of access we have designed a therapy using virtual reality, delivered with google cardboard headsets on their mobiles, and which will employ a holistic treatment to alleviate the trauma in men, women, and children by: (1) intervening to decrease hypoarousal and protect the refugee's neuroendocrine integrity, (2) helping the patient construct a cohesive narrative of the events during the post-traumatic period and, (3) becoming an advocate for the refugees, their children, and their families, helping to empower them so they can attain mastery and control over the forces that threaten to overwhelm their coping capacities. The application of the therapy in the peritraumatic stage shows potential in preventing the advent of PTSD, currently we are prototyping in Cairo, Egypt.