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In November 2017, Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) started providing free psychological and psychiatric services in the Republic of Nauru.

Mental health support was offered to everyone living in the Republic of Nauru in keeping with the “One Door for All” policy of the Government of Nauru.

An MSF mental health team member attends to a patient in Nauru

The mental health support was provided in the Médecins Sans Frontières clinic, in the Republic of Nauru Hospital and to people in their homes. Médecins Sans Frontières also conducted training and supported staff in several areas of government to boost the capacity to treat psychological and psychiatric disorders on the island.

The team conducted outreach activities to promote the services that were being provided, increase the awareness of mental health issues and try to reduce stigma attached to seeking treatment.

MSF conducting mental health awareness activities in Nauru

The program followed a number of visits to the island over the previous two years, where Médecins Sans Frontières identified gaps in the provision of mental health support and subsequently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nauruan Ministry of Health in June 2017.

On 5 October 2018, after 11 months of providing mental health care on Nauru, the Nauruan government informed Médecins Sans Frontières that our services were “no longer required” and requested that our activities cease within 24 hours.

MSF's press conference in Sydney following closure of its Nauru mental health services

In a press conference on 11 October, 2018, Médecins Sans Frontières strongly condemned the government of Nauru’s sudden decision to cease the provision of desperately needed mental health care provided by MSF to asylum seekers, refugees and the local community on Nauru. The team described the mental health situation of refugees on the island as “beyond desperate” and called for the immediate evacuation of all asylum seekers and refugees from the island and for an end to the Australian offshore detention policy.

The patients we have been forced to leave behind need you. Please add your voice to our call.

MSF's press conference in Canberra following the release of our report about mental health in Nauru

In a press conference on 03 December, 2018, Médecins Sans Frontières released the first independent medical data demonstrating the extreme mental health suffering on Nauru, due to the Australian policy of indefinite offshore processing. MSF strongly reiterates its urgent call for the Australian government to end this policy and immediately evacuate all refugees and asylum seekers – men, women and children from Nauru to avoid further deterioration of their health.

Find out more about Nauru

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