Realizing the unique context of the Marawi Crisis experience, one of the most efficient and effective means of Mental Health & Psychosocial Support ( MHPSS ) is to identify and empower local Maranao partners who can best serve the internally displaced population ( IDPs ) with sustainability in mind . Traditional approaches in MHPSS such as psychosocial processing or play & art activities are valuable but all these activities should anchor on the tenets of Islam, together with the promotion of inter-faith dialogue.
Understanding the MARATABAT of the Maranaos- their collective pride, honor and dignity – is also essential in any psychosocial approach, even for distribution of relief goods. It took me 4 weeks to convince the MHPSS cluster so that the agenda would include a discussion on Maratabat and its implications on designing programs, together with a personal sharing from a Maranao psychologist.
I have been very fortunate to have local contacts in Iligan City among the religious sector, NGO networks & human rights offices. This paved the way for MHPSS orientations/ workshops/training with mentoring for local institutions, whose members are mostly Maranao. These partners have been empowered upon realizing that COMMUNITY-BASED practices and local resources are the most effective forms of psychosocial support for the majority of the affected population, and NOT necessarily the expertise of mental health professionals, especially if they are outsiders (sarwang ) and have minimal background of the local culture.
There have also been reports of cases of psychosis, but mostly from relapse, as attested by the resident psychiatrist of the Iligan City Health Office. However, the proactive approach is still to have long term programs for follow-up of IDPs with exceptionally traumatic experiences.