This paper explores the key issue of mental health and psycho-social services (MHPSS), from a youth-specific perspective. Drawing on the assertions and recommendations of the YPS Progress Study, and coupled with the increasing attention to MHPSS within the sustaining peace agenda, this policy brief pays special attention to the role of youth-specific psycho-social services as a vital dimension of transformative youth resilience, essential to both addressing the consequences and prevention of violent conflict.
This is a report commissioned by Interpeace for their Outside the Box: Amplifying youth voices and views on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) policy and practice series.
The report points to the gap (noted in the YPS Progress Study’s recommendations) on masculinity and masculine identities as part of the gendered approach to implementing the YPS agenda. This policy brief focuses attention on supporting the development of alternative and positive masculine identities. While the paper draws on lived experiences in Northern Ireland, it derives lessons and recommendations, captures stories, and offers a narrative with wider relevance for other contexts.
The report was commissioned by Interpeace for their Outside the Box: Amplifying youth voices and views on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) policy and practice series.
The Chair, Professor Brandon Hamber, with Professor Ingrid Palmary has just a published in a new article in Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal.
Hamber, Brandon and Palmary, Ingrid (2021). A Dance of Shadows and Fires: Conceptual and Practical Challenges of Intergenerational Healing after Mass Atrocity. Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal, 15 (3), 100-120 [Download].
The legacy of mass atrocity – including colonialism, slavery or specific manifestations such as apartheid – continue long after their demise. Applying a temporal inter-generational lens adds complications. We argue that mass atrocity creates for subsequent generations a deep psychological rupture akin to witnessing past atrocities. This creates a moral liability in the present. Healing is a process dependent on the authenticity (evident in discourse and action) with which we address contemporary problems. A further overriding task is to open social and political space for divergent voices. Acknowledgement of mass atrocity requires more than one-off events or institutional responses (the grand apology, the truth commission). Rather acknowledgement has to become a lived social, cultural and political reality. Without this acknowledgement, healing, either collectively or individually, is stymied. Healing after mass atrocity is as much about political action (addressing inequalities and racism) as an act of re-imaging created through constant and contested re-writing.
Today the Commission for Victims and Survivors of Northern Ireland (CVSNI) and Ulster University (INCORE & TJI) launched the Advocacy Services Report focusing on advocacy and dealing with the past. The report was authored by Dr Maire Braniff, Professor Brandon Hamber, Dr Catherine O’Rourke, Dr Philip McCready and Dr John Bell.
The Report found that while the needs of victims and survivors are not homogenous there are core principles that underpin effective service provision. Essentially they should be victim-led, build trust, not create dependency, be compassionate and empathetic and value the lived experience and perspective of the individual. The groups offering advocacy were led by such principles. Further provision for dealing with the past should draw on and learn from the scale, diversity and experience of advocacy practice to date.
Equally, however, our research found that this was challenging work. There was unanimity amongst all service users and service providers that the biggest challenge was the systemic delay and the slow nature of legacy investigation and information recovery. The biggest scope for improvement in advocacy services was the accessibility of information and more streamlined and quicker responses from statutory agencies.
Professor Brandon Hamber, Hume O’Neill Chair, has published a new piece in Belfast Telegraph.
In my work dealing with the impact of political violence, a constant challenge is reminding people that when addressing survivors’ needs during times of conflict, it is the social context that is often the primary stressor. For example, as much as therapy for victims of conflict is useful, its value is limited if the conflict’s legacy persists and the social environment is destroyed.
You also cannot think about conflict without understanding that it has differential impacts. In Northern Ireland, for example, the neighbourhoods with the highest conflict death rate are those with the highest levels of poverty. When it comes to addressing the mental health impact of Covid-19, it seems we have a similar situation. We are acting as if the pandemic is only a medical problem, a behavioural issue (wear your mask, wash your hands, socially distance) and finally, a psychological question of coping mentally.
Today, the Chair addressed the UN General Assembly High-level Week event on “COVID-19 and the role of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in building resilience and sustaining social cohesion and peace”. The event was hosted by the Kingdom of the Netherlands in cooperation with the Center on International Cooperation and the g7+. The Chair spoke on the invitation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The event was co-Chaired by H.E. Ms. Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands and H.E. Ms. Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General.
The aim of the event was to present and discuss how Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in the context of COVID-19 can help individuals and communities to retain or regain resilience, to strengthen solidarity and cohesion, to address trauma and to foster reconciliation. And how MHPSS can help counter social disintegration and help to support efforts to build and sustain peace. The Chair’s input focused on his work with the Netherlands government as part of their Task Team exploring the integration of MHPSS into the UN peacebuilding architecture.
Professor Patricia Lundy and Professor Brandon Hamber have now published a Policy Brief based on work on historical institutional abuse and transitional justice.
This policy brieﬁng draws upon the Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry to explicate the nexus of historical institutional abuse inquiries with transitional justice approaches. Through detailed analysis of empirical research with those who gave testimony to the Inquiry, the brieﬁng explores to what extent the Inquiry was victim-centric, participatory and responsive. Drawing on lessons from transitional justice, the brief outlines ﬁve recommendations that could strengthen the victim-centred nature of approaches to dealing with the legacy of historical child abuse. The brief concludes that addressing victims’ needs should be the linchpin for both transitional justice and historical institutional abuse approaches.