“Peace Starts with Peace of Mind” : Study of the Intersection between Postconflict Trauma, Peacebuilding and Economic Development in Northern Uganda

The 21-year conflict with the Lord’s Resistance Army caused terrible experiences for people in northern Uganda. After the war, people returned home but with continuing mental and interpersonal problems they have found it difficult to engage in activities that would improve their wellbeing, relationships and their community’s social fabric. Disharmony on all levels appears to obstruct recovery and peaceful coexistence. This study examines an intervention implemented by TPO Uganda in northern Uganda addressing mental health challenges, conflict mediation and economic empowerment. The research consisted of 23 individual in-depth interviews and 16 focus group discussions, supported by a quantitative questionnaire completed by people who had participated in the intervention. There were strong indications that psychosocial support interventions for traumatic experiences and postconflict difficulties are essential.


Key implications for practice

• People to people approaches that create spaces for communities to reflect and hold conversations on conflict drivers, combined with MHPSS interventions can greatly contribute towards peaceful co-existence.

• To think about the feelings and beliefs of others needed for peacebuilding is only possible if one’s own emotions and thoughts have been attended to as well.

• MHPSS should be mainstreamed in other sectors. for peacebuilding and economic development. Participants of the study were found to have considerably fewer mental complaints, better coping mechanisms to manage stress and the ability to relate in a satisfactory way with their intimate partners and family members than before the intervention. In addition, they had supportive relationships with their group members and other community members. 

Marian Tankink, Ben Otto & Patrick Onyango Mangen | 2022
In: Interventions : Journal of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Conflict Affected Areas : ISSN: 1571-8883 | 20 | 1 | May | 46-57
Affected Populations, Economics, Effects, Exposure, Interventions, Mental health, Psychoeducation, Psychosocial support, Religiosity, Research, Uganda, War