Violence, Trauma and the Mental Health Gap
We are facing a significant global mental health gap. In high-income countries, 35–50% of people with mental health needs lack access to care; in low-income countries, the estimate is closer to 90%. Some of the most vulnerable populations include victims and witnesses of human rights abuses from war, torture, human trafficking and other forms of persecution. Without support for their emotional wellbeing, survivors of such traumatic experiences can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety, leading to problems such as suicidality, substance use, chronic disease, poverty, homelessness, and more.
The impacts of psychological trauma are both immediate and long term, and have emotional, social, and economic consequences for individuals, families, and societies. When exposure to trauma is severe, recurring, and interpersonal in nature—such as refugees suffering repeated torture, loss, and displacement—complex trauma can lead to even greater distress. When entire societies are affected by large-scale violence such as war and genocide, collective trauma can result, deeply affecting the social fabric, as well as the lives of future generations.