Psychosocial Peacebuilding

“Mental health is an invisible barrier to building peace,” according to respondents of an international survey conducted by War Trauma Foundation and the South African Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR). “To build peace we have to look at the full legacy of a conflict, including its mental health effects. Only this way fighting groups will be able to work and live together again,” say respondents.

War Trauma and IJR are collaborating to bridge the worlds of peace building and mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS). Our survey included respondents from 61 different organisations from around the world. They agreed that interventions aimed at building sustainable peace would benefit from an approach integrating mental health.

“It is sort of common sense. Unhealed psychosocial impacts of past violence need to be addressed to support the effective design and functioning of structures, institutions and activities being established as part of any peacebuilding process,” explains Marian Tankink of War Trauma. “It surprised me that little research has been done to assess whether achieving sustainable peace is more likely when connecting peacebuilding and mental health.”

To review the state of the fields of peace building and mental health and psychosocial support War Trauma and IJR brought together 17 experts, both practitioners and academics, to discuss the results from the survey and literature review. A process was started to draft practical guidelines on Psychosocial Peacebuilding: an integrated approach to peacebuilding, mental health and psychosocial support.