No end in sight: moving towards a social justice framework for mental health in continuous conflict settings

The occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) exemplifies a situation of continuous, protracted violence and conflict. This paper explores the application of the concept of posttraumatic stress disorder to this situation of ongoing violence. It argues that using an individualised perspective ‘through a trauma lens’, may not be the most appropriate approach to Palestinian distress, but that a model based on the concept of ‘social suffering’ may be a more holistic fit, exploring how individual and collective human suffering is associated with life conditions shaped by powerful social forces. Furthermore, the author asserts that an human rights informed, social justice framework is both a comprehensive and appropriate framework to address the mental health needs of populations affected by continuous conflict. She further contends that social justice is a core principle of public health, and that to truly incorporate social justice into their work, mental health practitioners must expand their traditional roles to include elements of activism and advocacy.

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Tawil, Shireen