How can changes in my life and community damage my mental health

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In many parts of the world, communities are being forced to change rapidly—because of changes in the economy or because of political conflict. Many of these changes require families and communities to alter their entire way of life. Here are two example stories:

„My name is Edhina. When the war started, soldiers came and forced the men in our village to fight. Some of the women were raped. We fled into the mountains, but it was hard to find food. Now we live as refugees in a camp just across the border. We usually have enough to eat, but many people are sick. The camp is crowded with strangers. Every day I wonder - will I ever see my home again?“

„My name is Jurema. Every year our land produced less. We had to borrow money to buy seeds, and even tried buying fertilizer, but we could never grow enough to pay back the bank. We were finally forced to leave our land. Now we live in a shack at the edge of the city. Every morning when I wake up, I listen for the birds that had always greeted the morning. But then I remember - there are no birds here. There is only another day of scrubbing other people's floors.“

When families and communities break apart, or when life changes so much that old ways of coping do not work any more, people may begin to have mental health problems.

  • Burns, A. A., Niemann, S., Lovich, R., Maxwell, J., & Shapiro, K. (2014). Where women have no doctor: A health guide for women. Hesperian Foundation.
  • Audiopedia ID: en011505