Reima Ana Maglajlic (University of Sussex)

(United Kingdom)

Halida Vejzagic, independent survivor researcher

Topic: Exploring alternative understanding of distress caused by political conflict through co-produced research

Thematic area: Political dimension in/of social work / (Mental) Health and Social Work

Language: English 


Distress caused by political conflict or the world-wide health emergencies such as the Covid-19 pandemic is predominately interpreted and supported through the medical understanding of distress. This presentation is based on a study conducted with a mental health survivor researcher in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) throughout 2022. It’s starting point is understanding of distress, and what type of support may alleviate it, based on the experiences and views of 48 adults across BiH who have experienced it during and after the war in this country and their experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic. The presentation explains the research co-production process and explains the implications of the findings for mental health services in conflict and post-conflict settings – particularly for the role of social workers. The findings highlight the social causes and consequences of distress caused by conflict – implications of this are discussed in relation to the role of professional support. This includes support for the development or protection of services run by experts by experience, human rights advocacy as well as importance of poverty-alleviation initiatives. Cultural and other similarities and differences in the findings between participants of different ethnicity, gender, sexuality and (dis)abilities are also explored.