A Systematic Review of Mental Health Programs Among Populations Affected by the Ebola Virus Disease

Jude Mary Cénat, Joana N.Mukunzi, Pari-Gole Noorishad, Cécile Rousseau, Daniel Derivois, Jacqueline Bukaka (2020, avril)

Journal of Psychosomatic Research


The Ebola virus disease (EVD) is associated with major mental health consequences (e.g., depression, anxiety, PTSD). Studies have shown a need for relevant and effective programs to address mental health consequences associated to EVD. This systematic review aimed to describe programs implemented following EVD outbreaks and to evaluate their effectiveness and relevance in order to provide evidence-based data to improve mental health services.

We first searched EMBASE, PubMed, PsycINFO, PILOTS, Cochrane Library and MEDLINE for a systematic review on EVD and on MHPSS programs. Then, we searched the grey literature. The search generated 2827 publications. Eleven studies were retained according to the PRISMA statement.

This systematic review revealed that most programs were implemented by international organizations in collaboration with local partners. Many of them were implemented following WHO mhGAP and Psychological First Aid guidelines. Programs were implemented in hospitals, Ebola treatment centres, communities among different categories of individuals exposed to EVD (survivors, health workers and volunteers, other frontline workers, children, adults, etc.). Only two of the identified programs which integrated cultural factors were empirically evaluated. Results from the evaluations showed mental health improvement for both children and adults.

This study provides the first systematic review on MHPSS programs among communities affected by EVD. This study shows the need to increase efforts to systematically document and evaluate the implemented programs. Results also provide preliminary evidence about the value of culturally sensitive MHPSS programs and of the implication of local mental health professionals.