Psychosocial Support Interventions in Humanitarian Situations

Course Description

Resource Person: PROF. KIKOMA JULIUS

In humanitarian situations, physical and biological issues tend to receive primary emphasis in terms of funding allocations and organisational priorities. It is easy in such situation for social, psychological, or psychosocial issues to, at best, be seen as secondary.

Yet, inadequate attention to the psychosocial dimensions of an emergency situation has been noted to be a major underlying factor in programmatic failure.

Increasingly, however, over the last three decades, humanitarian agencies have also addressed the social and psychological impacts of armed conflict. These efforts have been driven by an obvious need to respond to the tremendous civilian suffering in such conflicts. Such efforts tend to be understood as an area of intervention defined by the kind of result it seeks to achieve (e.g. as trauma healing or the promotion of psychological or psychosocial well-being). Despite conflicting views among many practitioners on the question of the status of such interventions in comparison with the physical or biological ones, there is a general consensus that ‘psychosocial support interventions constitute a sector of humanitarian programming that is distinct, and parallel to, such other sectors and areas of humanitarian programming as water and sanitation, food and nutrition, health, and shelter. Considering psychosocial support as a separate (or independent) sector of intervention has attracted debate among practitioners, some pointing out that it can be counterproductive because it encourages actions that are isolated from other humanitarian interventions. This module is based on a    re-conceptualisation of the psychosocial dimensions of humanitarian response and how it can lead to more effective integration of the whole range of interventions that may be essential to a population affected by conflict.

Aim: To introduce course participants to psychosocial issues as a part of a comprehensive set of approaches to enable conflict affected populations to achieve an adequate level of well-being

Objectives: To examine the key psychological components of peace, conflict, and violence including an overview of the research literature on psychosocial concepts in humanitarian work

To discuss how to reconceptualise and communicate psychosocial issues and related interventions that involves a wider set of actors.

Scope: The course will be taught in two sessions. The first session will be on psychology in humanitarian situations and   will examine the key psychological components of peace, conflict, and violence including an overview of the research literature on psychosocial concepts in humanitarian work. The contributions of positive psychology to peace will be explored ending with a discussion of how positive emotions, engagement, meaning, personal well-being, and resilience may impact peace at different levels, ranging from the personal and interpersonal to community, national, and global peace.

The second session will horn on the interventions that contribute toward wellbeing. Basing on the domains of wellbeing we will discuss how to reconceptualise and communicate psychosocial issues and related interventions that involve a wider set of actors.

References and Readings

-Tol et al (2011). Mental Health and psychosocial support in humanitarian settings: linking practice and research, Lancet, 37(8) 1581–91.

-Strang, A. & Ager, A. (2003). Psychosocial interventions: Some key issues facing practitioners, Interventions, Volume 1, Number 3, Page 02 – 12.

-Slomon, G. & Nevo, B. (Eds.). Peace Education: The concept, principles, and practices around the world. Mahwah, NJ.: Earlbaum.

-MikeWessells &Mark van Ommeren (2008). Developing inter-agency guidelines on mental health and psychosocial support in emergency settings, Intervention, Volume 6, Number 3/4, Page 199 – 218.

-PWG (Psychosocial Working Group). 2002. “Psychosocial Intervention in Complex Emergencies: A Conceptual Framework.” Psychosocial Working Group Working Paper. Centre for International Health Studies, Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh. www.forcedmigration.org/psychosocial

-Alfadhli K, Drury J, (2016). Psychosocial Support Among Refugees of Conflicts in Developing Countries: A Critical Literature Review_ Intervention 14 Page 128-141.

-Micheaal G Wessells (2008). Do No Harm: Challenges in Organizing Psychosocial Support to Displaced People in Emergency Settings Refugee: Canada’s Journal On Refugee 25(1) 6-14.

 

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