Secondary Trauma and Local Mental Health Professionals in Post Conflict Sierra Leone

Akinsulure-Smith, A.M. & Keatley, E. (2013). Secondary Trauma and Local Mental Health Professionals in Post Conflict Sierra Leone. International Journal for the Advancement of Counseling, 36 (2), 125-135. doi: 10.1007/s10447-013-9197-5. 

Abstract: This pilot study explores the impact of secondary stress on the emotional well-being of local mental health professionals (N = 44) in Sierra Leone, a country recovering from a brutal civil war, while examining the types of training and support offered to these professionalsby their organizations. While age and number of different types of traumatizing lifeevents to which a professional was exposed was significantly associated with emotional well-being (r(33) = −.39, p = .02 and r(33) = .33, p = .05 respectively), traumatizing life events did not predict depression or PTSD and work-related stress was not found to predict any symptoms. The results are discussed in light of challenges faced by local mental health professionals who work with a traumatized population while dealing with their own conflict-related experiences and their professional and organizational support systems. Implications for future research and self-care strategies are also highlighted.

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