The Life Esidimeni crisis : why a neoliberal agenda leaves no room for the mentally ill

Ornellas, Abigail ; Engelbrecht, Lambert K. (2018)

CITATION: Ornellas, A. & Engelbrecht, L. K. 2018. The Life Esidimeni crisis : why a neoliberal agenda leaves no room for the mentally ill. Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk, 54(3):296-308, doi:10.15270/54-3-650.

The original publication is available at http://socialwork.journals.ac.za

Article

This article makes the case for the fields of social work and community psychology to contribute to psychosocial humanitarian interventions in the global South. Many countries in the majority world face humanitarian crises, including war, political turbulence and in some cases genocide. In this article I examine some of the interventions that have demonstrated some efficacy in ameliorating psychosocial problems associated with conflict and war; I examine the role of mental health professionals in preparing survivors of war crimes and human rights abuses for testimony in post-conflict truth commissions; and I examine the complementary role of community psychologists and social workers in the context of conflict-related work. In defining a role for social workers and community psychologists, I identify areas of common concern for psychosocial humanitarian aid workers, namely an awareness of power relations, the potential mismatch of cultural zeitgeists between the professions of social work and psychology and the populations they serve, and the cultural sensitivities associated with what is considered to be therapeutically appropriate.

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