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World Mental Health Day 2018: Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Torture Survivors

World Mental Health Day 2018:  Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Torture Survivors

It’s a hard-to-fathom fact that torture is still used throughout the world to inflict physical or psychological harm to punish, intimidate or gather information. Torture inflicts enormous suffering on the people who endure it, as well as on their families and their communities, creating a culture of fear and shame. Torture results in a complex set of physical and psychological problems for survivors.  The Center for Victims of Torture reports that the psychological effects of torture are often the hardest to overcome.

Organizations like the Center for Victims of Torture, based in St. Paul, Minnesota, offer hope to survivors of torture that their psychological wounds can be healed with sensitive, professional care. 

Janssen marks World Mental Health Day annually on October 10 by co-sponsoring an award honoring an individual, organization or project committed to reducing stigma of mental illness and to supporting individuals living with these illnesses in communities around the world. This year’s recipient of the Dr. Guislain “Breaking the Chains of Stigma” Award, the Center for Victims of Torture, works to rehabilitate those who have suffered from torture, advocates for their care and provides mental health care for them. Read more about the award here.

During the past 33 years, the Center for Victims of Torture has rebuilt the lives and restored the hope of nearly 36,000 survivors.  It has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands more through policy advocacy that generates federal funding for survivor rehabilitation in the U.S. and abroad.

There are estimated to be 1.3 million refugee torture survivors in the U.S., and millions more globally, and the number of individuals receiving rehabilitation from the Center for Victims of Torture has grown from just over 2,000 in 2013 to an estimated 4,400 in 2017.  


Psychoeducation Event Hosted by the Center for
Victims of Torture in Ethiopia

The Center also trains hundreds of professionals around the world on how to recognize and respond to the symptoms of torture and trauma.


Syrian Refugee in Amman, Jordan

Their impact on survivors is impressive. As one client said, “Before I stayed alone and didn’t talk to others. Now I’m able to talk and discuss my issues. It helps my heart.”

At Janssen, we are honored to recognize the Center for Victims of Torture for their contributions to “restoring the dignity of the human spirit” and applaud the brave individuals who seek treatment after suffering torture and war trauma. Please join us in supporting mental health by encouraging discussions about it in your communities.

Janssen’s sponsorship of the Dr. Guislain Award reflects our 60-year commitment to advance care for patients with mental illness and respond to community needs, locally and globally. Our work in mental health was started by the late Janssen founder, Dr. Paul Janssen, and our leadership in neuroscience research continues today. Our commitment to mental health also includes our Healthy Minds initiative, which is part of the Janssen Champions of Science project, and aims to encourage collaboration among biotechnology, pharmaceutical and public-sector partners to accelerate the discovery of new therapeutic solutions for diseases and disorders of the brain.