Overcoming post-conflict trauma with art: case studies from Africa

In volatile environments such as conflict-torn North Kivu, post-genocide Rwanda, or Sierra Leone, experts and humanitarian aid workers are now employing art to support the treatment of mental health conditions caused by violence. In many areas of the African continent, people with psychological illnesses lack effective therapeutic support – left alone in dealing with the sickness and forced to fight every day against the stigma. In these circumstances, art therapy can represent an important ally to cure pathologies such as PTSD, depression or nevrosis.

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Immigrants, stress post-traumatique exaspéré par les hotspots

La plupart des migrants qui sont arrivés en Europe par la mer depuis 2015 ont subi des violences: des problèmes de santé mentale émergent pendant la période de réception dans les pays d’accueil, notamment le troubles de stress post-traumatique. Grâce à une étude récente, nous savons que ce qui attend ces personnes à leur arrivée compte, tout autant que leurs expériences le long de la route migratoire et dans leur pays d’origine. La vie dans les grandes structures, telles que les hotspots et les CARA, peut avoir un effet négatif sur les traumatismes antérieurs. Les associations sont d’accord: il est temps de supprimer les obstacles à l’intégration, en changeant radicalement l’approche frontalière proposée par l’UE.

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Migrants’ post-traumatic stress is aggravated by hotspot system

Most of the migrants who have arrived in Europe by sea since 2015 have experienced violence: mental health problems emerge during the reception period in host countries, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder. Thanks to a recent study, we know that what awaits these people upon arrival matters just as much as their experiences along the migration route and in their country of origin. Life in large facilities such as hotspots and CARAs can negatively affect previous traumas. Associations agree: it is time to remove the obstacles to integration, radically changing the border approach proposed by the EU.

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“Mental 360”, in Kenya against youth depression and suicides

Mental 360 is a non-profit mental health awareness organization that has been active since 2016. Among its activities there are physical wellness, counselling, art therapy, yoga and dance, all aiming at promoting mental health and emotional stability. The end goal is to establish a society where mental illness is not stigmatized and treatment is affordable to the common citizen everywhere in Africa. We talked with Bright Shitemi, co-founder of the organization, who explained us the inspiration behind the NGO and the objectives, obstacles, results achieved to date and future goals.

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“Living Death”, a hopeless life with sadness weaved into the bones

One Global Voice reaches Botswana with this poem dedicated to the fatigue of living. When not engaged in her work, Maipelo M Zambane dedicates herself to reading and above all to writing: she keeps a very active profile on Twitter and collaborates with the digital magazine Afrolutionist, which aims to contribute to inclusive development in Africa and in the African diaspora through the perspective of human rights. “I don’t remember the day i stopped embracing hope,” thus ends this painful piece from her recent Life and Everything in Between collection.

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Refugees and asylum seekers, people with mental health at risk

A study published on PLOS Medicine shows that migrants experience high rates of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders, and that it’s necessary to provide immediate and continuous psychological support.

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“No title”, when words dissolve in the whirlpool of deep depression

A poem entitled “No title”, because when one suffers from depression there seem to be no words to describe it. The world around seems to dissolve and words are deprived of their meaning and unfit to describe one’s feelings. This is the theme at the heart of the poem by Alum Comfort Anne, a young and talented Ugandian poet who has been inspired by her personal struggle with depression. She takes us in the middle of a stormy night, torn by the desire both to live and to die, until the break of dawn. The final verses convey not only the despair behind a suicide attempt but also the invincible faith in human solidarity and mutual support, because “we are all just human, anyway”.

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“La dépression c’est pour les blancs. Ici on l’appelle Folie”

Nanda est une artiste gabonaise singulièrement plurielle, poétesse Slameuse, chanteuse, Chroniqueuse médias et écrivaine. Elle est de celles qui osent croire au pouvoir de l’oralité, de la parole poétique rassembleuse, éveilleuse de rêves et d’une humanité meilleure. Elle a pris part à plusieurs festivals dans plusieurs pays du monde. Elle est aussi co-initiatrice du Collectif Slam Action du Maquis Bibliothèque et et Membre du collectif Kidikwa. Dans ce texte elle parle de la folie comme on l’entend en Afrique pas en Occident et raconte l’histoire d’une femme isolée et jugée à cause de l’amour d’une nuit. “Maladie Mentale”?/Le terme ne court pas les rues ici/C’est une friandise que mâchent les bouches intellectuelles/Ici on dit “Folie“.

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“Left without”, a woman inside the imaginery cave of depression

Akimana Divine is a Rwandan poet, mental healthcare advocate and human rights activist. Her works have been published on numerous magazines and anthologies. The poem “Left without” allow us into that imaginery cave that is depression: a dark place where one is left without anything but his/her ghosts and fears. Divine has had her own hardships in life, first as a young girl being bullied for her weight and then as a single mother raising her boy alone. These painful experiences led her to find comfort in poetry and to write her own poems as a way of struggling against depression.

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