The Effect on Mental Health of a Large Scale Psychosocial Intervention for Survivors of Mass Violence: A Quasi-Experimental Study in Rwanda

Scholte WF, Verduin F, et al.
Publication date: 
8 August 2011
Background. War has serious and prolonged mental health consequences. It is argued that post-emergency mental health interventions should not only focus on psychological factors but also address the social environment. No controlled trials of such interventions exist. We studied the effect on mental health of a large scale psychosocial intervention primarily aimed at social bonding in post-genocide Rwanda. The programme is implemented at population level without diagnostic criteria for participation. It is open to any person older than 15 years, and enables participation of over 1500 individuals per year. We postulated that the mental health of programme participants would improve significantly relative to non-participants. Methods and Findings. We used a prospective quasi-experimental study design with measurement points pre and post intervention and at 8 months follow-up. 100 adults from both sexes in the experimental condition entered the study; follow-up measurements were taken from 81. We selected a control group of 100 respondents with similar age, sex and symptom score distribution from a random community sample in the same region; of these, 73 completed the study. Mental health was assessed by use of the Self Reporting Questionnaire (SRQ-20), a twenty item instrument to detect common mental disorders in primary health care settings. Mean SRQ-20 scores decreased by 2.3 points in the experimental group and 0.8 in the control group (p = 0.033). Women in the experimental group scoring above cut-off at baseline improved with 4.8 points to below cut-off (p<0.001). Men scoring above cut-off at baseline showed a similar trend which was statistically non-significant. No adverse events were observed. Conclusions. A large scale psychosocial intervention primarily aimed at social bonding caused a lasting improvement of mental health in survivors of mass violence in Rwanda. This approach may have a similar positive effect in other post-conflict settings.

Fourth Global Mental Health Summit

Nothing About Us, Without Us - Voices from the Global South

28th-29th November 2015

Movement For Global Mental Health is delighted to announce the fourth Global Mental Health Summit to be held at the TISS Campus in Mumbai, India on the 28th and 29th of November 2015. The focus of this year’s Global Health Summit, themed “Nothing About Us, Without Us”, will be driven mainly by persons living with mental health issues from different social, cultural and educational ecosystems. The aim is to bring to the forefront voices of individuals from marginalized backgrounds, those who are rarely represented in discussions related to the mental health agenda. 

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