Secondary Trauma and Local Mental Health Professionals in Post Conflict Sierra Leone


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.

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Correspondence to Adeyinka M. Akinsulure-Smith.

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Akinsulure-Smith, A.M., Keatley, E. Secondary Trauma and Local Mental Health Professionals in Post Conflict Sierra Leone. Int J Adv Counselling 36, 125–135 (2014).

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  • Local mental health professionals
  • Armed conflict
  • Trauma
  • Africa