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Year : 2008  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 228-231

Psychosocial community approaches and practices in Latin America

Helen Hamlyn Senior Fellow at Fordham University’s international Institute for Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) in New Cork. She has previously been the director of refugee initiatives at the Solomon Asch Center for the Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research and development work focuses on psychosocial interventions with survivors of violence in several countries

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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The use of the term ‘community approaches’ in psychosocial work often involves multiple meanings, all of which contrast with individual approaches to mental health. The importance of the context emphasizes the need to design and implement emergency programmes in ways that ‘make sense’ to local populations. This requires not only consideration of generational, gender, spiritual, and cultural practices within the community, but also reinforcing existing resilient resources in the face of adversity. In this commentary we describe several examples and sources that present ways of working in Latin American communities after disaster. We discuss the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings, with a specific focus on ‘Community Mobilization and Support’ and the four common functions it contains.

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