This early conceptual and theoretical work influenced

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This early conceptual and theoretical work influenced the field in multiple ways, including influencing thinking about core principles, improving consensus around best practices, and working on definitional issues to improve communication and collaboration amongst actors in the field. This conceptual work confronted debates and disagreements concerning the ways to conceptualise the impact of conflict and displacement, as well as the appropriate goal and focus of MHPSS activities. As such, this work improved understanding of the breadth and dimensions of psychosocial work, while further delineating underlying principles that should guide interventions. The PWG’s work is also notable for its emphasis on the need to design interventions that address locally perceived needs and build upon already existing resources and support systems, emphasising a perspective that “recognize(s) that individuals, families, groups and communities actively deploy the resources available to them in order to shape their world” 41 [see Textbox 5]. A notable limitation of the PWG’s work was the lack of focus on the area of clinical mental health, leading to neglect of the topic of how to support people with severe mental disorders in humanitarian settings. Influences of research Published academic literature has contributed to an emerging evidence-base regarding the extent and type of impact of conflict and displacement on mental health and psychosocial well-being. Research literature has identified impacts through quantitative studies that have documented mental disorder and mental health symptoms, primarily depression, anxiety and PTSD. The number of quantitative surveys focused on PTSD, depression or both among displaced or conflict-affected populations grew from 25 in the 1980s, to 73 in the 1990s and 83 in the 2000s, 42 reflecting growing 38 Ager (1993). 39 Psychosocial Working Group (2003). 40 Mollica, Cardozo, Osofsky, et. al. (2004); Strang & Ager (2003). 41 Strang and Ager (2003). 42 Steel, Chey, Silove, et. al. (2009). 22 UNHCR’S MENTAL HEALTH AND PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT FOR PERSONS OF CONCERN
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interest in the issue, and increasing use of standard quantitative methods in challenging field settings. For example, one study compared the prevalence of mental disorders in conflict-affected populations in Algeria, Cambodia, Ethiopia and Palestine. 43 The findings showed PTSD prevalence ranging from 15.8% (Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia) to 37.4% (Algerian peri-urban area exposed to massacres). The number of conflict-related events experienced was significantly related to PTSD in all four samples; apart from this, the four samples showed different relationships between traumatic events, risk factors and mental health outcomes, indicating the importance of understanding and accounting for contextual factors that influence mental health and psychosocial well-being in humanitarian settings [see Textbox 4].
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  • Fall '19
  • Humanitarian aid, psychosocial support

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