Original Paper

Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 49, Issue 5, pp 615-624

Who Cares for Former Child Soldiers? Mental Health Systems of Care in Sierra Leone

  • Suzan J. SongAffiliated withAsian Americans for Community Involvement/Center for Survivors of Torture Email author 
  • , Helene van den BrinkAffiliated withCity of Rest
  • , Joop de JongAffiliated withDepartment of Cultural and International Psychiatry, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam

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While numerous studies on former child soldiers (FCS) have shown mental health needs, adequate services are a challenge. This study aimed to identify priorities, barriers and facilitators of mental health care for Sierra Leonean FCS. Thematic analysis was done on 24 qualitative interviews with participants from diverse sectors. Priorities of mental distress, substance abuse, and gender-based violence were common among FCS clients. Barriers were governmental support and communication with other providers. Perceived facilitators of care were primary- and secondary-level interventions. A public mental health model would feasibly build upon local, culturally embraced interventions, targeting local priorities and reducing barriers to care.


Mental health Child soldiers War Systems of care Psychosocial