The dominant approaches to addressing mental health needs
- Are biomedical, pathologizing responses to trauma and divorcing these experiences from broader structural and historic factors, such as violence, inequality and poverty
- Are individualised, focusing on an individual’s experiences without taking into account how they fit into collective experiences
- Are not contextualised, replicating western models of care or intervention that do not meet the needs, expectations and practices of African communities
These approaches combine to blame people for the mental health challenges they experience, without considering the structural, collective and local dimensions of these challenges. They block opportunities for communities to create their own solutions and trap individuals in labels, without creating pathways for meaningful, long-term healing.
Instead, globally we need non-biomedical, collective and contextualised approaches to healing trauma. This is the gap that the Green String Network seeks to fill from a healing-centered peacebuilding approach.
GSN deploys a tested trauma-informed approach to peacebuilding, popularly known as Wellbeing and Resilience (WebR). The WebR framework deepens and expands research and practices related to trauma healing, justice, peacebuilding, and human security at the grassroots and links to the policy level.
GSN offers several different training programs, based on the WebR for peacebuilders and human rights defenders, the general workforce, as well as a healing-centered training for teachers, administrators, and parents supporting all levels of schools.
In the last year, as the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the world, we have seen an increased need for mental health services. As social isolation measures were put in place, many individuals continue to suffer from immense mental and emotional distress caused by new financial or social pressures.
The need for psychological help and healing grows every day. Just like 12-step programs Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and other support groups help millions, GSN has learned that we can come together to support each other’s wellbeing and emotional growth with peer support.