During and after civil conflict and war, societies face a high burden from the disabling effects of psychological trauma. The social, economic and personal costs of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and a host of other sequellae of organized violence impact individuals, their families and their communities. Typically, few resources are devoted to trauma-informed mental health services when economies and societies have been devastated by war, displacement, violence and destruction, even though these interventions are both cost-effective and necessary. Programs to address traumatic stress can include integrating mental health into primary health care systems, developing specialized mental health services, working within the education system to improve teacher response to traumatized children and families, preventing ongoing abuses in prisons and institutions, and strengthening governmental services for victims of war, torture and former prisoners. Furthermore, post-conflict societies also face the burden of responding with inadequate resources to the needs of persons with severe mental illness and addictions.
Heartland Alliance's Programs
Heartland Alliance has years of experience with providing a wide range of trauma-informed mental health services. Heartland Alliance specifically addresses traumatic stress through domestic programs such as FACES, the Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center, and Violence Recovery Services. Heartland Alliance is a national leader in recovery and harm reduction programs for persons with severe mental illness and substance use through Heartland Health Outreach's Mental Health Services and a variety of other programs.
Building on experience providing trauma-informed mental health care and psychosocial services for those who have experienced war, armed conflict, torture and displacement in the United States, Heartland Alliance is implementing international programs that provide both direct services for individuals, and training for mental health workers. Mental health programs include capacity building for local organizations and government agencies to better provide for their communities.
International Programs: Specific
Heartland Alliance is implementing mental health service programs and providing psychosocial training to community-level mental health workers through several projects, including:
- Training community mental health workers in Iraq;
- Providing comprehensive mental health services for women living with HIV/AIDS in Rwanda;
- A rehabilitation center that offers mental, medical, vocational and legal services to former female child soldiers in Burundi with the aim of successful social reintegration;
- A program developing community-level psychosocial support for victims of sexual and gender-based violence through counselor training in the Democratic Republic of Congo;
- Training staff at the Trauma Rehabilitation and Training Center in Iraq to assist victims of torture;
- Gender-based violence prevention in Iraq through legal, medical and social assistance for victims as well as legal advocacy and media campaigns to reduce gender based violence;
- A psychosocial services project to train teachers in Iraq to provide trauma informed teaching methods for vulnerable children affected by the war;
- Improving protections and expanding services for persons institutionalized in mental health, women's shelter, and juvenile reformatories in Iraq;
- Providing primary health care services, including mental health services, to vulnerable IDPs, returnees, refugees, and host communities in northern and southern Iraq;
- Vocational training at a residential rehabilitation center for former child soldiers in Sri Lanka.