COMMUNITY BASED PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT
The foundation of all community based psychosocial work is the belief in the affected community’s capacity for recovery and resilience as all communities and individuals have resources and strategies for dealing with difficulties, illness and distress .
Emergencies put significant psychological and social stress on individuals, families and communities. People not only experience atrocities prior to or during flight; their living conditions once they have reached safety also impose significant stress and hardship. Refugees and other people of concern experience and respond to loss, pain, disruption and violence in significantly different ways, influencing their mental health and psychosocial well-being and their vulnerability to mental health problems. Men and women, and boys and girls of different ages, may have different ways of experiencing and expressing distress. Their reactions to disruptive situations are often overcome with time. Most people cope with difficult experiences and may become more resilient if a supportive family and community environment is available. Some people are more vulnerable to distress, however, especially those who have lost, or been separated from, family members, or who are survivors of violence.
When mass displacement occurs, the normal and traditional community structures that often regulate community well-being, such as extended family systems and informal community networks, may break down. This can cause or exacerbate social and psychological problems; and, in response, new mechanisms and new forms of leadership can arise, which may or may not be representative of age and gender or a community’s diversity. The way in which humanitarian and refugee services are provided can also increase or diminish stress in affected populations. Some persons of concern may develop negative coping mechanisms that put them at increased risk. While most people will not develop mental disorders, some will, and the symptoms of individuals who already had disorders may worsen.
If persons of concern no longer have access to the usual systems for providing mental health care, or those systems have deteriorated, they may be left without adequate treatment or support.
In order to respond to the psychosocial needs, a diverse set of support is required to address the individual, family and community needs. The foundation of all community based psychosocial (CBPS) work is in the recognition of the affected community’s capacity for recovery, resilience and future rebuilding and development.
EOTC-DICAC/RRAD also recognizes its responsibility to protect affected populations and to recognize and strengthen local capacities. An underlying priority in emergencies is to protect and improve people’s mental health and psychosocial well-being, and to recognize their capacity for recovery and resilience.
EOTC-DICAC/RRAD also Ethiopia recognizes that in order to fully meet the challenges affecting peoples’ welfare, a more comprehensive, multi-sectorial approach to affected people assistance must supersede the more traditional models of aid. One aspect of DICAC-RRAD’s programming which highlights the holistic nature of its services is the CBPS, designed to empower refugees through means of education, medical support, income-generating opportunities, conflict resolution, spiritual, cultural and social events, and mobilizing refugees self-help structures. The ultimate goal of the program is to promote self-reliance and to foster positive relations among the community members, as peers.
EOTC-DICAC-RRAD established a Psychosocial Support Working Group (PSWG) to promote and support the need for social and psychological considerations in all sectors of work and partner organizations.
EOTC-DICAC-RRAD currently does have 9 trained staffs in community based psychosocial support.
The Objectives of our Community-Based Psychosocial Work are;
– To assist affected people to attain stable life and integrated functioning
– To restore hope, dignity, mental and social well-being and a sense of normality.
Key achievements in this area include;
- Supporting the re-establishment and/or development of refugee community structures which are representative of the population from an age, gender and diversity perspective
- Establishing community centres and self-help groups indiffre3nt refugee camps in Ethiopia
- Mainstreaming CBPS core principles in secondary education projects
- Capacity building training on CBPS and PFA organized for donor organizations, implementers, local partners, field staff and affected communities.
- East Africa CBPS CoP established with leading of EOTC-DICAC-RRAD.
- Fostering social support for people with specific needs, including people with psychosocial or intellectual disabilities
- Promoting the inclusion of people with psychosocial or intellectual disabilities in activities for education and other services
- Supporting initiatives by the refugee communities to improve the wellbeing of persons of concern and to fight exclusion and marginalization of people with specific needs
- Promoting peaceful coexistence with host communities.
- Set up common spaces where refugees can interact and engage in joint activities (such as spaces for children and youth, community centers, and community-based schools).
- Life skill trainings, group counseling sessions etc.