African boy making a cat's cradle


IJR peacebuilding team

Over the last four years, the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) in South Africa has been leading a project aimed at narrowing the gap between the fields of mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) and peacebuilding (PB). This project is centred on the premise that war, conflict and oppression have a significant but often under-acknowledged impact on human beings which in turn weakens the social fabric that governs relationships, the capacity for recovery and the opportunities for reconciliation. In the aftermath of conflict, the causes of conflict often remain and continue to foster mistrust and fear. The work of both MHPSS professionals as well as peacebuilders aims ultimately to restore the social fabric that binds and supports people within their communities as a way of disrupting cycles of violence and building sustainable peace. While each field has different ways of achieving its goals; there exist significant overlaps. However, the two fields work mostly in isolation from one another. This project seeks to develop new and innovative ways of integrating MHPSS and PB to develop sustainable long-term solutions.

If you’d like to know more about this project, please read ‘Making the case for psychosocial peacebuilding: A new model to strengthen social fabric:

About this project

In 2015 an International conference was jointly organised by the South African Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) and the Netherlands-based War Trauma Foundation (WTF) titled ‘Healing communities, transforming society: Exploring the interconnectedness between psychosocial needs, practice and peacebuilding’, aimed at assessing whether and how the fields of mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) and peacebuilding (PB) are, or should be, integrated. The conference built on the March 2014 Special Section of the journal Intervention guest edited by Brandon Hamber and Elizabeth Gallagher titled ‘Peacebuilding and psychosocial work’.

Taking up the findings in the Special Section as well as the recommendations that emerged from the conference, IJR and WTF have since conducted a systematic literature review and a mapping exercise of global practice while also reaching out and building, throughout this period, relationships with academics and practitioners working in both fields and who are interested in narrowing the gap. Findings from these processes provide rich evidence that by and large, MHPSS and PB practitioners operating in post-conflict contexts acknowledge that an integrated approach is needed in order to interrupt cycles of violence, prevent trauma-informed responses and achieve sustainable peace, while also enhancing MHPSS in affected communities.

Find out more

Should you want to find out more about this work, feel free to email the project coordinator Ms Friederike Bubenzer (IJR) 

This page is intended to share information about and insights gained throughout this project.

The Coordination Team



2015 Conference Report

Healing Communities, Transforming Society Exploring the interconnectdeness between psychosocial needs, practice and peacebuilding

Download here

No peace without peace of mind: The impact of violent conflict on individuals and society

Many people encounter traumatic events in their lifetime, particularly those living in contexts of war or violent conflict. It is estimated that about 22% of people who live in conflict-affected areas of the world live with a mental health condition, such as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. Of these, 9% have moderate-to-severe conditions. These findings come from an analysis of data from 129 studies presented in the renowned medical journal Lancet and covers 39 countries that have experienced conflicts in the last decade.

Download the article

Coming Together: Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Peacebuilding

Within the fields of research and practice of peacebuilding and mass violence prevention, societal and individual mental health is often overlooked, yet remains a critical area for further partnership, analysis, and evidence-based policy integration.

Download here

blog 22017 Mapping Study

Healing communities, transforming society Mental health, psychosocial support and peacebuilding

Download here

2017 Literature Review

Achieving Sustainable Peace through an Integrated Approach to Peacebuilding and Mental Health and Psychosocial Support: A review of current theory and practice

Download here

Intervention Journal

Special Issue Intervention Peacebuilding and Psychosocial work

Download here

Videos Webinar: “Co-creating a Collaborative Approach to Peacebuilding and MHPSS”

Webinar held on 28th November 2018

Trauma and Peacebuilding: How Well Are Peacebuilders Responding to Conflict’s Impact on the Mental Health of Individuals and Communities?

An event hosted by the Alliance for Peacebuilding and Generations for Peace, December 2019

Integrating Peacebuilding and mental Health and Psychosocial Support

An event co-hosted by, TPO Uganda and IJR, December 2019

2015 MHPSS and PB conference