There is growing recognition of the critical role trauma and mental health play in building and sustaining peace. Trauma, whether caused by adversity, violence, displacement, or marginalisation can have significant long-term effects on individuals and communities. It negatively affects their wellbeing and the ability to engage in constructive dialogue. This can have negative effects on mental and physical health, lead to substance abuse and social isolation, and perpetuate cycles of violence and repression. Consequently, individual and collective trauma constitute critical obstacles for conflict transformation.
At Corridors, we are aim to further bridge the fields of peacebuilding and mental health to develop holistic and trauma-sensitive approaches. We are convinced that improving trauma literacy and mental wellbeing is essential for effective, inclusive, and sustainable peacebuilding in the South Caucasus and Eastern Europe. By raising awareness, increasing trauma-literacy, and strengthening mental health competencies, we can contribute to more resilient and peaceful communities that are better equipped to navigate challenges of conflict and adversity.
Inner peace is important for peacebuilding because it enables individuals to approach conflict with a positive and nonviolent mindset, to listen to others with empathy, and to act with compassion and understanding. It also strengthens the personal resilience of peacebuilders, social activists, and youth workers, and supports emotional wellbeing.
In 2023, Corridors started a series of capacity building workshops on inner peace and mental health for youth workers and young activists. The workshops aim to strengthen competencies of youth workers, to develop context-specific educational activities, and to raise awareness about the vital role of emotional wellbeing for individual and organisational development.
Trauma literacy refers to the knowledge and skills needed to recognize, respond to, and support those who have experienced trauma. It involves providing knowledge on how trauma affects individuals and communities, and skills on how to create safe and supportive environments for healing that are conducive to peacebuilding.
Within a pilot project in 2022, Corridors organised a workshop with peacebuilders, social workers, educators, and mental health experts from Georgia and Armenia. Here we jointly explored the causes and impacts of personal and collective trauma in both societies, and investigated how to prevent secondary traumatisation when working in post-conflict communities. Based on this workshop, we developed Guidelines for Trauma Sensitivity in Peacebuilding and Community Work that aims to enhance trauma literacy of practitioners.