Peace of Mind: The role of mental health in peacebuilding

Mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) is increasingly recognised to be a key component of approaches to build peace in communities around the world that are suffering the effects of past and current conflict.

Our new report, Peace of Mind, demonstrates how peacebuilders can effectively incorporate MHPSS in their own projects, drawing on lessons from our experience in Rwanda and Tajikistan.

In Rwanda, the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi has left deep psychological wounds, including among younger generations. We run group therapy and dialogue sessions aimed at addressing trauma and strengthening community cohesion.

“I used to be held back by fear. But now I live in harmony with genocide survivors hurt by my actions,” says Bernard, who participated in our USAID Dufatanye Urumuri project in Rwanda. “We met at our local meeting hall and had an open conversation on the wrongs that we did to them.” (Watch Bernard’s story)

In Tajikistan, there are many gender gaps, which are a major barrier to long-term, sustainable peace. Women often lack a voice in society and in their own homes, and family violence is prevalent. We used mental health interventions together with practical livelihoods support to help families and communities tackle this issue.

“During the group sessions we attended, we talked openly about mental health and wellbeing,” says Dilafruz, who participated in our Zinadagii Shoista (‘Living with Dignity’) project. “My neighbours and I always shared our problems with the specialists and they helped us a lot.” (Watch Dilafruz’s story)

The report examines the effectiveness of the two projects and draws together the lessons learned to support all those working in conflict and post conflict contexts to integrate MHPSS into peacebuilding approaches.

Below, you can watch first-hand accounts of the effect that conflict has had on people’s mental health and how MHPSS is being used to address this.

Share our research and stories using #MHPSS.


Thanks to the Pears Foundation for funding the production of the research and stories. We are also grateful to the US Agency for International Development and UK International Development for funding the projects covered by Peace of Mind.

Pears Foundation logo
UK International Development logo