Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Trauma, Peacebuilding and Development: An Africa Region Perspective

With the trauma paradigm increasingly questioned, this is an appropriate moment to step back and reflect on what are the alternatives. The purpose of this paper is develop an alternative framework for conceptualizing mental health and psychosocial issues in the post-conflict environments in Africa. It begins with an overview of the region and an analysis of the competing conceptual frameworks that have guided mental health and psychosocial interventions within it. Next, it examines critically the concepts of trauma, peacebuilding and development and offers a transformational perspective in which healing is integrally interconnected with collective processes of social mobilization and transformation of institutionalized inequities toward the achievement of social justice and human rights. In place of the dominant trauma idiom, it identifies a holistic conceptualization of psychosocial well-being that centers around risk, resilience, and protective factors and that highlight the importance of community mobilization, culture, social ecologies, and social justice. Third, it examines practice in the region in regard to issues of trauma and more holistic mental health and psychosocial support, with an emphasis on children and youth. It argues that although trauma work is prevalent throughout Africa, a trauma focus is less useful than a more holistic, community-based and culturally grounded approach. It concludes that although this approach is proving useful in the field, a key task for the future is to connect community-based work with larger processes of social transformation for peace with social justice.

Link to the paper >>