Intervention Journal

March 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 1

ARTICLES

FIELD REPORTS

Community beliefs and fears during a cholera outbreak in Haiti
Authors:
Grimaud, Jérôme; Legagneur, Fedia
‘The Gaza Diamond’: drawings and wishes of Palestinian teenagers
Authors:
Rabaia, Yoke; Nguyen-Gillham, Viet; Giacaman, Rita

REFLECTIONS, COMMENTS, LETTERS

Spirituality and psychosocial work in emergencies: four commentaries and a response
Authors:
Onyango, Grace R; Paratharayil, Michael; van den Berg, Simon; Reiffers, Relinde; Snider, Leslie; Erikson, Cynthia

REVIEWS

SUMMARIES

Summaries in Arabic
Authors:
Editors
Résumés en Français
Authors:
Editors
Summaries in Pashto
Authors:
Editors
Summaries in Russian
Authors:
Editors
Summaries in Sinhala
Authors:
Editors
Resumenes en Español
Authors:
Editors
Summaries in Tamil
Authors:
Editors

From the editor: on posttraumatic growth, spirituality and cholera…

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Authors:
Ventevogel, Peter

ARTICLES

Fighting for a future: the potential for posttraumatic growth among youths formerly associated with armed forces in Northern Uganda

This article presents the potential of posttraumatic growth (PTG) among youths formerly associated with the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) in Northern Uganda. Through investigating life narratives of 12 such youths, this study aims to discover the potential of PTG as a consequence of a forced time period with the LRA. By means of interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), the narratives revealed four themes: social support; participation; self perception, and faith in God. These four themes are found to resemble four of the five factors measuring PTG. Basic values and cultural understanding, however, makes the possibility of PTG very doubtful. Yet, a matching review of the four themes and PTG compose a foundation of how to focus future interventions, with an increased potential for growth, among youths formerly associated with the LRA.

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Authors:
Kryger, Louise Steen; Lindgren, Cille Løwe

Defining mental health and psychosocial in the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Guidelines: constructive criticisms from psychiatry and anthropology

The development of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Guidelines heralded an international achievement by gathering mental health and psychosocial professionals to evolve common minimum responses during emergencies. However, one continuing contentious issue has been the definitions of mental health and psychosocial support. The absence of these formal and agreed definitions may well interfere with coordinating minimum responses. This paper explores theoretical differences in these fields, and presents alternative definitions and solutions through a review of the psychiatric and anthropological literature.

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Authors:
Aggarwal, Neil Krishan

FIELD REPORTS

Community beliefs and fears during a cholera outbreak in Haiti

In October 2010, an outbreak of cholera was confirmed in Haiti. The country had not seen cholera for many decades, so it was a ‘new’ disease to the population. The outbreak of cholera also leads to high levels of fear and suspicion due to beliefs and perceptions. This field report presents some of those beliefs and perceptions around the outbreak, in four Haitian communities. As many Haitians did not perceive cholera as a ‘natural’ or preventable disease, suspicions that the disease was deliberately spread for political reasons by foreign agencies or national authorities, or was related to religious factors such as vodou practices, caused tension in the communities and negatively impacted the public health response to the outbreak. The Haitian Red Cross started psychosocial interventions to tackle the psychological and social dimensions of the cholera outbreak. These included participatory group discussions, facilitation of community acceptance of cholera treatment centres, conflict mediation, individual psychosocial support to people with cholera and facilitation of mourning.

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Authors:
Grimaud, Jérôme; Legagneur, Fedia

Agape: a reconciliation initiative by members of civil society and former child-soldiers

‘Agape’ is a reconciliation project among victims of the armed conflict in Colombia and child-soldiers who, legally, are also victims of the armed conflict. The project was realised fully by volunteers, who are kidnap victims, refugees, students and other members of the Colombian community in Montreal, Canada. The paper presents the results of this project: the contribution of the child-soldiers to the healing process of many of the direct victims of the war, as well as implications of the project for former child-soldiers, other victims of the war, and all other community members involved. The paper concludes by asserting the importance of the participation of the community in the search for solutions to armed conflict.

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Authors:
Serna, Daniel Ruiz; Marchand, Ines

‘The Gaza Diamond’: drawings and wishes of Palestinian teenagers

In this study, the body of drawings and written wishes chosen from a drawing contest for Palestinian schoolchildren, provided data revealing a world of hopes, wishes and desires of Palestinian teenagers. Irrespective of the measure of regional exposure to the violent conflict, the political situation figures prominently in their wishes. Peace and statehood are dominant themes. While refugee children seem slightly more concerned by the political situation, children in the north of the West Bank region and in rural areas display less personal aspiration and more interest in material wealth.

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Authors:
Rabaia, Yoke; Nguyen-Gillham, Viet; Giacaman, Rita

Overcoming social/cultural practices and beliefs in setting up a community mental health programme in a complex emergency: reflections arising from the work done by TPO in Somalia

Since the collapse of the central government of Somalia in 1991, large parts of the country have been in turmoil. Fighting, poverty, hunger and gender based violence have all contributed to high levels of mental and psychosocial problems. Excessive consumption of khat may also be a major contributor to mental health problems, specifically in men. In Somalia, few services respond to the needs of people with mental health problems. The nongovernmental organisation TPO Uganda used community support structures to increase access to, and delivery of, psychosocial support services, through local implementing partners, and the line ministries. This paper describes the steps to create a capacity building programme in an unstable and fragile context, with the aim of mainstreaming psychosocial support in public services.

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Authors:
Onyango Mangen, Patrick; Kinyera, Richard; Edward, Taban

REFLECTIONS, COMMENTS, LETTERS

Spirituality and psychosocial work in emergencies: four commentaries and a response

The commentaries on the next few pages relate to the article ‘Spirituality and mental health in humanitarian contexts: an exploration based on World Vision's Haiti earthquake response’ by Alison Schafer on page 121–130 of issue 8.2 of Intervention (2010). The author uses the experiences in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake to substantiate her argument that nongovernmental organisations do not have a clear set of interventions to address the spiritual needs of an affected population, in conjunction with their mental health and psychosocial support needs. The author considers this a gap, given the evidence that spirituality can have beneficial effects on mental wellbeing, and is often an important resource for both coping and coming to terms with the consequences of events. However, as mentioned in the editorial of issue 8.2, blurring the line between psychosocial support and ‘spiritual support’ could lead to promoting specific religious values to distressed populations, and may even be seen as proselytising of vulnerable groups. The dilemma surrounding this uneasy relationship between religion and psychosocial work definitely warrants further exploration and discussion.

This issue, therefore, contains four commentaries responding to the issues raised in Schafer's article. Grace Onyango, an experienced psychosocial specialist from Uganda, believes that spiritual approaches are not necessarily at odds with more standardised mental health and psychosocial support interventions. In her experience, providing spiritual nurture is not the same as evangelism and deserves more attention in humanitarian work. Michael Paratharayil, who works with a faith based, nongovernmental organisation, underlines the importance of using (local) religious ritual as part of interventions aimed at improving the psychosocial wellbeing of survivors. He illustrates this with examples from South East Asia. Simon van den Berg, Relinde Reiffers & Leslie Snider, who are staff members of the War Trauma Foundation, acknowledge the need for all humanitarian workers to be sensitive to people's religious and spiritual beliefs, as they should be for social values and cultural practices, in general, but question whether this warrants the creation of specific ‘psycho-spiritual approaches,’ and the development of separate models and guidelines. Cynthia Erikson, a psychologist with the Fuller Theological Seminary, underlines the importance of facilitating both the discussion and practice of what people believe, and to try to understand of how these beliefs relate to the experience of an emergency and its aftermath. She advocates the use of an existing clinical tool, the Cultural Formulation, that can guide clinicians through the various ways that culture (and this could include religion and spirituality) is embedded in diagnosis and treatment, and that this can assist the process of developing appropriate interventions. In her response, Alison Schafer points out that she does not recommend developing tools that narrowly focus only on spiritual nurturance and mental health and psychosocial support, but rather to seek ways to include spiritual nurture more broadly within humanitarian work. A first step is the ongoing consideration of the pervasive influence of spirituality on wellbeing, and the ways humanitarian agencies can support all aspects of wellbeing, for the survivors of emergencies.

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Authors:
Onyango, Grace R; Paratharayil, Michael; van den Berg, Simon; Reiffers, Relinde; Snider, Leslie; Erikson, Cynthia

Spirituality and mental health in humanitarian contexts: a response to the commentaries

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Authors:
Schafer, Alison

REVIEWS

Close Encounters: Stories from the Frontline of Human Rights Work in Nepal.Himal Books, Lalitpur (Nepal). Barbara Weyermann (editor) ISBN: 9789937826617

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Authors:
Poudyal, Bhava

Review of Daya Somasundaram, Collective trauma in the Vanni (International Journal of Mental Health Systems 4:22, 2010)

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Authors:
van der Veer, Guus

SUMMARIES

Summaries in Arabic

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Authors:
Editors

Résumés en Français

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Authors:
Editors

Summaries in Pashto

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Authors:
Editors

Summaries in Russian

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Authors:
Editors

Summaries in Sinhala

PDF
Authors:
Editors

Resumenes en Español

PDF
Authors:
Editors

Summaries in Tamil

PDF
Authors:
Editors