The Mental Health Consequences of Ethnic Violence: Assessing Needs and Low-Cost Interventions

Exposure to ethnic violence instigates a wide range of psychiatric disorders, and the prevalence of mental health problems in conflict zones is more than double the average prevalence of mental disorders worldwide. Still, scholars know very little about the coping mechanisms available to individuals in post-conflict settings (Ng et al. 2020). This project fills in this gap by examining the mental health of ethnic conflict survivors in Konso—an Ethiopian region where ongoing inter-ethnic violence has resulted in the displacement of 132,000 people, more than 75 deaths, and severe damages to lands, crops, and livestock. Using the HHL funding, we interviewed 200 conflict survivors in three refugee camps. We use individual-level data on stressors, coping mechanisms, and conflict exposure and community-level data on the severity of the conflict to explain the variation in mental health symptoms of internally displaced persons. This project makes important contributions to global mental health research by (1) evaluating the extent to which depression, anxiety, and PTSD exist among conflict survivors in Ethiopia; (2) examining whether the choice of coping strategy affects the longitudinal mental health consequences of conflict exposure; and (3) examining how coping mechanisms can inform community-based mental health interventions in post-conflict settings.

Student Team Member

Mia Mamo, Class of 2022, Global Health

Faculty Team Member

Dr. Irina Soboleva, Assistant Professor of Behavioral Science at Duke Kunshan University