Secondary Trauma and Local Mental Health Professionals in Post Conflict Sierra Leone
- 324 Downloads
This pilot study explores the impact of secondary stress on the emotional well-being of local mental health professionals (N = 44) in Sierra Leone, a country recovering from a brutal civil war, while examining the types of training and support offered to these professionals by their organizations. While age and number of different types of traumatizing life events to which a professional was exposed was significantly associated with emotional well-being (r(33) = −.39, p = .02 and r(33) = .33, p = .05 respectively), traumatizing life events did not predict depression or PTSD and work-related stress was not found to predict any symptoms. The results are discussed in light of challenges faced by local mental health professionals who work with a traumatized population while dealing with their own conflict-related experiences and their professional and organizational support systems. Implications for future research and self-care strategies are also highlighted.
KeywordsLocal mental health professionals Armed conflict Trauma Africa
- Amnesty International (2011). Sierra Leone: Continuing human rights violations in the post conflict period. Retrieved from http://amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AFR51/008/2010/en/45ab1d0e-05b8-438d-bbc5-d97fa68fac22/afr510082010en.html.
- Amowitz, L. L., Reis, C., Hare Lyons, K. J., Vann, B., Mansaray, B., Akinsulure-Smith, A. M., et al. (2002). Prevalence of war-related sexual violence and other human rights abuses among internally displaced persons in Sierra Leone. Journal of American Medical Association, 287(4), 513–521. doi: 10.1001/jama.287.4.513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Baker, B., & May, R. (2004). Reconstructing Sierra Leone. Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, 45, 35–60. doi: 10.1080/14662040408565568.
- Bride, B.E., Robinson, M.M., Yegidis, B., & Figley, C.R. (2004). Development and validation of the secondary traumatic stress scale. Research on Social Work Practice, 14, 27–35. doi: 10.1177/1049731503254106.
- Chung, M.C., Preveza, E., Papandreou, K., & Prevezas, N. (2006). Spinal cord injury, posttraumatic stress, and locus of control among the elderly: a comparison with young and middle-aged patients. Psychiatry, 69, 69–80. doi: 10.1521/psyc.2006.69.1.69.
- de Jong, K, Mulhern, M., Ford, N., Kam, S., & van der, K.J.R. (2000). The trauma of war in Sierra Leone. The Lancet, 355, 2067–2068. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(00)02364-3.
- de Jong, K., Kleber, R. J., & Puratic, V. (2003). Mental health programs in areas of armed conflict: the Médecins Sans Frontières counseling centers in Bosnia-Herzegovina. International Journal of Mental Health, Psychosocial Work & Counselling in Areas of Armed Conflict, 1, 14–32.Google Scholar
- Denov, M. (2010). Child soldiers. New York, New York: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511676475.
- Everly, G. S., Boyle, S. H., & Lating, J. M. (1999). The effectiveness of psychological debriefing with vicarious trauma: a meta-analysis. Stress and Health, 15(4), 229–233. 5.Google Scholar
- Gberie, L. (2005). A dirty war in West Africa: The RUF and the destruction of Sierra Leone. London: Hurst and Company.Google Scholar
- Gray, M. J., Litz, B. T., Hsu, J. L., & Lombardo, T. W. (2004). The psychometric properties of the life events checklist. Assessment, 11, 330–341.Google Scholar
- Harrington, T., & Newman, E. (2007). The psychometric utility of two self-report measures of PTSD among women substance users. Addictive Behaviors, 32, 2788–2798.Google Scholar
- Human Rights Watch (January 16, 2003). “We’ll kill you if you cry”: Sexual violence in the Sierra Leone conflict, A1501, Retrieved from http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/3f4f595b6.html.
- Kposowa, A. (2006). Erosion of the rule of law as a contributing factor in civil conflict: the case of Sierra Leone. Police Practice and Research, 7(1), 35–48. doi: 10.1080/15614260600579623.
- Maxted, J. (2003). Youth and war in Sierra Leone. African Identities, 1, 69–78. doi: 10.1080/1472584032000127888.
- Newnham, E.A., Akinsulure-Smith, A.M., Hansen, N., & Betancourt, T.S. (2012). A Collaborative Model for Building Capacity in Mental Healthcare: Training and Supervision for the Youth Readiness Intervention in Sierra Leone. Manuscript in preparation.Google Scholar
- Norris, F. H., & Hamblen, J. L. (2004). Standardized self-report measures of civilian trauma and PTSD. In J. P. Wilson, T. M. Keane, & T. Martin (Eds.), Assessing psychological trauma and PTSD (pp. 63–102). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Pearlman, L. A., & Saakvitne, K. (1996). WORKBOOK Trauma and the therapist: Countertransference and vicarious traumatization in psychotherapy with incest survivor. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
- Putman, K.M., Townsend, C., Lantz, J., Roberts, K., Gallegos, A., Potts, E., et al. (2009). Reports of community violence exposure, traumatic loss, posttraumatic stress disorder, and complicated grief among Guatemalan aid workers. Traumatology, 15(3), 40–47. doi: 10.1177/1534765609332323.Google Scholar
- Radloff, L. S. (1977). The CES-D scale: a self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement, 1, 385–401. doi: 10.1177/014662167700100306.
- Radloff L. S., & Locke B. Z. (1986). The community mental health assessment survey and the CES-D scale. In M. M. Weissman, J. K. Myers, & C. E. Ross (Eds.), Community surveys of psychiatric disorders (pp. 177–189). New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
- Roberts, R.E. (1980). Reliability of the CES-D in different ethnic contexts. Psychiatry Research, 2, 125–134. doi: 10.1016/0165-1781(80)90069-4.
- Ruggiero, K. J., Del Ben, K., Scotti, J. R., & Rabalais, A. E. (2003). Psychometric properties of the PTSD checklist--civilian version. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 16, 495–502.Google Scholar
- van der Veer, G. (2005). Basic principles in training trainers for counselors and psychosocial workers in areas of armed conflict. In M.J. Friedman & A. Mikus-Kos (Eds.), Promoting the psychosocial well being of children following war and terrorism (pp. 181–189). IOS Press.Google Scholar
- Walker, E. A., Newman, E., Dobie, D. J., Ciechanowski, P., & Katon, W. (2002). Validation of the PTSD checklist in an HMO sample of women. General Hospital Psychiatry, 24, 375–380. doi: 10.1016/S0163-8343(02)00203-7.
- Weathers, F., Litz, B., Herman, D., Huska, J., & Keane, T. (1993, October). The PTSD Checklist (PCL): Reliability. validity, and diagnostic utility. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, San Antonio, TX.Google Scholar
- Weathers, F., Litz, B., Huska, J., & Keane, T. (1994). PTSD Checklist Civilian version National Center for PTSD—Behavioral Science Division. Retrieved from http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/pages/assessments/ptsd-checklist.asp.
- Weissman, M. M., Sholamskas, D., Pottenger, M., Prusoff, B. A., & Locke, B. Z. (1977). Assessing depressive symptoms in five psychiatric populations: a validation study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 106, 203–214.Google Scholar
- Wilson, J.P., & Gielissen, H. (2004). Managing secondary PTSD among personnel deployed in post-conflict countries. Disaster Prevention and Management, 13(3), 199–207). doi: 10.1108/09653560410541795.