Spirituality and psychosocial work in emergencies: four commentaries and a response

The commentaries on the next few pages relate to the article ‘Spirituality and mental health in humanitarian contexts: an exploration based on World Vision’s Haiti earthquake response’ by Alison Schafer on page 121^130 of issue 8.2 of Intervention (2010). The author uses the experiences in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake to substantiate her argument that nongovernmental organisations do not have a clear set of interventions to address the spiritual needs of an a¡ected population, in conjunction with their mental health and psychosocial support needs. The author considers this a gap, given the evidence that spirituality can have bene¢cial e¡ects on mental wellbeing, and is often an important resource for both coping and coming to terms with the consequences of events. However, as mentioned in the editorial of issue 8.2, blurring the line between psychosocial support and ‘spiritual support’could lead to promoting speci¢c religious values to distressed populations, and may even be seen as proselytising of vulnerable groups. The dilemma surrounding this uneasy relationship between religion and psychosocial work de¢nitely warrants further exploration and discussion.
Mental health, Psychosocial support, Mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), Spirituality, Spiritual nurture, Psycho-spiritual
Onyango, G. R., Paratharayil, M., van den Berg, S., Reiffers, R., Snider, L., & Erikson, C. (2011). Spirituality and psychosocial work in emergencies: Four commentaries and a response. Intervention, 9(1), 61-73.