STRENGTHS Project: Scaling Up Psychological Interventions with Syrian Refugees


Millions of Syrian refugees have been affected psychologically by the Syrian conflict. The STRENGTHS project is training Syrian refugees to provide a mental-health intervention called Problem Management+ to fellow Syrian refugees.

Its aim is to help alleviate some of the psychological trauma suffered by those who have escaped the conflict, but paid a high psychological cost in the process.

The STRENGTHS project is helping Syrian refugees with non-critical cases of psychological trauma associated with conflict to return to regular levels of psychological function. PM+ is a tool that has been developed by the WHO to help people affected by conflict. It is a short programme that targets symptoms of common psychological disorders. The STRENGTHS project will translate, adapt, test and implement the PM+ programmes Individual, Group, Early Adolescent Skills for Emotions (EASE) as well as an internet-delivered version.

But the project will go further than that.

It is not enough to know if an intervention works or not. The project’s partners are also looking at cost-effective implementation, and how to use PM+ in specific contexts. STRENGTHS will attempt to answer these questions in eight different countries in Europe and the MENA region.


The project has five Objectives:

  • Outline necessary steps to integrate PM+ into the health systems of the participating countries.
  • Scale op the PM+ programmes successfully.
  • Disseminate the knowledge about the evidence-base for PM+ programmes and how to implement and sustain them.
  • Translate and adapt the PM+ programmes and training materials.
  • Determine the invested cost and effort of the specific PM+ interventions in different contexts.


KIT is researching and assessing how PM+ can be a high-functioning part of existing health systems. For example, KIT research has focused on how participants and their social networks needing care identify pathways and access to PM+. KIT’s work is based on the second phase of the project, entitled “WP2” in the projects plan. A full explanation of KIT and other partners’ involvement, alongside detailed coverage of the STRENGTHS, is available at the project’s website.

For more information about the estimates of mental disorders in conflict settings, see the 2019 systematic review and meta-analysis from the World Health Organization.