The Challenge

Thousands of individuals across central Africa have struggled through cycles of violent conflict and economic poverty, which often create the “hidden scars” of severe trauma and fear. Despite this, access to mental health information and services are severely limited in much of the region — especially in the most isolated communities. As a result, individual and collective trauma is often left under-addressed, which can deepen existing mistrust and tensions between social groups and continue cycles of violence.

Our Response

Invisible Children takes a community-based approach to helping central African communities address mental health struggles associated with violent conflict. These programs place an emphasis on utilizing the strengths of the community, raising community awareness on trauma-related issues, and promoting the availability of focused psychosocial and psychological support for those experiencing severe symptoms of trauma.

We equip local volunteers to provide basic mental health support that does not require specialist intervention and to refer those experiencing more severe symptoms of trauma to Invisible Children psychologists and other specialists. Volunteers are equipped with tools for providing Psychological First Aid, peer support, and basic stress management strategies. In addition, host families who provide care for former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) captives are also trained in trauma-awareness and equipped with tools to adequately care for LRA escapees.

Trained Invisible Children psychologists also partner with local health centers, hospitals, and local civil society to strengthen their ability to provide psychosocial support to their communities. This includes training medical service providers on mental health awareness and providing specialized mental health support to those with more severe symptoms of trauma. Where possible, Invisible Children psychosocial experts also support other efforts to increase community access to mental health support.

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