Political violence, natural disasters and mental health impact


A Douglas-led team of world health researchers search for effective interventions for disadvantaged civilian populations

Western-based clinical and psychosocial intervention models used by humanitarian organizations often have constraints in meeting the needs of local, non-Western civilian populations. In addition, their therapeutic value and efficacy remains uncertain. Thanks to a four-year $1.6M Teasdale-Corti Team Grant, provided by the Global Health Research Initiative (GHRI), a Douglas-based team, working in collaboration with McGill University and researchers from other countries, will develop an international program to rethink current approaches to humanitarian aid and identify effective mental health interventions aimed at people and communities affected by political violence and natural disasters.

Led by the Douglas Hospital Research Centre, this program will be conducted in partnership with McGill University, the University of Toronto, the Jewish General Hospital, the Montreal Children’s Hospital, and six economically disadvantaged countries: Guatemala, Indonesia, Nepal, Palestine (Gaza), Peru and Sri Lanka. Over 35 researchers will be involved worldwide. “Our objective,” explains Duncan Pedersen, MD, MPH, from the Douglas Hospital Research Centre and principal investigator of the project, “is to reduce the mental health burden of civilian populations exposed to protracted and endemic political violence and episodic natural disasters, foster the process of healing, psychosocial rehabilitation and recovery, and generate improved mental health policies and services in the participating countries.”

“This research program,” he continues, “will enable us to reassess interventions and strategies employed by humanitarian organizations involved in promoting mental health and human rights by moving beyond the narrow psychological focus to a wider perspective of the social and cultural context in which populations recover from traumatic experience. In today’s world, it seems more important than ever to promote the notions of social justice, stabilization and reconciliation through effective policies and interventions that will reduce suffering, promote healing, and help to break the vicious cycles of violence and impunity.”

The Teasdale-Corti Team Grants are named in honour of Canadian Dr. Lucille Teasdale and her husband, Dr. Piero Corti. Doctors Teasdale and Corti dedicated their lives to improving health care services in Africa, and to building skills and capacities among African health practitioners.

About the Douglas
Founded 125 years ago, the Douglas is a world-class institute, affiliated with McGill University, which treats people suffering from mental illness and offers them hope and cure. Its teams of specialists and researchers continually advance scientific knowledge, integrate it into patient care, and share it with the community to increase awareness and thereby eliminate stigma around mental illness.

On the Web: Douglas Mental Health University Institute

Contact Information

Caroline Dusablon
Douglas Hospital
caroline.dusablon [at] douglas.mcgill.ca
Office Phone: 
514-761-6131 ext. 2769