This article describes a mental health program in the Aceh Province, a conflict area in Indonesia, after the tsunami. The intervention aimed to normalize community life, through activities such as the construction of a volleyball field and the organization of a tournament, as well as organizing talking groups to reinforce solidarity and mutual support. On an individual level, offering counselling services supported normalization. The beneficiaries appreciated the communities based group activities the most. As for individual psychological support, counselling proved to be an unknown approach for the majority of the population, and therefore did not always meet their expectations of a fast, practical resolution to their problems.
In the north eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), an area affected by war and armed conflicts, a sensitization campaign about (coping with) traumatic stress has been carried out. This campaign has positively influenced the awareness of key community members to traumatic stress. In this paper, the campaign and its results are presented.
In 2003, a community based psychosocial programme for children in Iraq was started. Psychosocial activities were implemented in primary schools and in primary health care settings aimed at child mental health protection. This field report describes the programme and some of the difficulties that were encountered. It concludes that even in circumstances as difficult as they are in Iraq it is possible to run psychosocial programmes – if reliable partners are involved.
The disintegration and disempowerment caused by war and organized violence in conflict areas are often reinforced by aid projects. Instead of addressing the social and psychological processes of threat and fear, destruction and trauma, loss and grief through interventions, they separate them, delegate them to specialists and ignore them in the other sectors of programming humanitarian aid. On the other hand, in psychosocial projects, the material needs of people are not always addressed adequately. In this article, a tool is introduced that helps to better understand the real extent of individual and collective disempowerment in conflict areas, and to facilitate an integrated psychosocial approach to empowerment. The application of this tool will be illustrated with two examples. One example looks at economic projects in Nepal, where staff examined more closely their individual beneficiaries and realized how the fears of both past and future influence economic performance. The other is in a psychosocial project in Gaza where this tool helped counsellors to take the material needs of their clients more seriously, and to turn sewing and pottery courses from occupational therapy into a form of economic empowerment.
Best practice in psychosocial work with marginalized populations emphasizes the importance of community participatory approaches. However, the majority of field reports on psychosocial support with marginalized children describe donor initiated projects in which the goal is community empowerment, ownership and control, rather than reports about collaboration with activist movements arising from the communities themselves. This paper addresses one recent example of the latter form of collaboration, in which activists of a social movement in Tamil Nadu, India requested brief, targeted, external psychosocial assistance, following the tsunami of December 2004. The focus of the assistance, at the community's request, was to increase cognitive capacity among children and volunteer teachers in a community education program.
Over the course of a consultation meeting on best practice in care and protection of children associated with fighting forces, consensus methodology was used to identify appraisals of key areas where research was required to strengthen the knowledge base supporting programming policy. Nineteen leading practitioners and policymakers (drawn from intergovernmental and nongovernmental agencies working in the field) completed three successive rounds of a consensus rating task, based on themes identified in the course of the meeting. A wide range of issues were identified, but those suggested as key areas of priority for research and practice development were: scalable livelihood interventions; integration of girls formerly associated with fighting forces; improved monitoring and evaluation strategies; and documenting the comparative effectiveness of community based psychosocial and clinical interventions. Areas of required policy development were also identified.
Based on an assessment of over 8000 active militia members and military staff in seven regions of Somalia, this article reports on three groups of respondents who might require special attention in a future Somali disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programme. The assessment revealed distinct preferences concerning future reintegration assistance, according to region, age and gender of the respondents. In the south of Somalia, a large number of young respondents want to return to formal schooling, but they are especially burdened by war related trauma and exhibit elevated patterns of drug use. Many of the older respondents in the north of Somalia and female respondents throughout of the country, prefer monetary support from a future reintegration programme. This group might not have realistic expectations about demobilization and the existing modules of reintegration assistance might not meet their specific needs. A third group consisted of respondents with a prior psychological breakdown which had disrupted their every day functioning and who might be at high risk to develop severe psychiatric disorders in the future, as demonstrated in a previous study. The findings suggest that, for planning and implementation of a DDR programme, variables such as the expectations, drug use and the psychological stress of individual ex-combatants need to be taken into account.
© Intervention Journal of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Conflict Affected Areas | Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow
Online since 1st February 2018