Original Articles

Addressing Urgent Community Mental Health Needs in Rwanda: Culturally Sensitive Training Interventions

Published in: Journal of Psychology in Africa
Volume 16, issue 2, 2006 , pages: 261–272
DOI: 10.1080/14330237.2006.10820130
Author(s): Lisa Lopez LeversDuquesne University, USA, Desire KamanziKigali Health Institute, Rwanda, Donatilla MukamanaKigali Health Institute, Rwanda, Kirrily PellsInstitute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London,, Dan-Bush BhusumaneDuquesne University and University of Botswana,


Rwandan leaders in the health and educational sectors have begun to discuss the necessity for establishing culturally appropriate community-based mental health counselling services in Rwanda, especially trauma counselling. The need for a community psychology approach is anchored in the lingering effects of the genocide and the continuing post-traumatic stress symptoms suffered by many in the population. Capacity building in an effort like this would require the design of multi-level counselling curricula that are sensitive to the social structures within Rwandan culture. These curricular endeavours call for the development of a National Counselling Centre to serve as a structural mechanism for organizing community-based counselling initiatives. We consider the community health services needs in Rwanda here, along with associated challenges and strategies for effective mental health services in a country with a recent history of genocide. A community psychology approach to mental health would benefit Rwandan society by making trauma counselling and recovery services available and accessible to citizens throughout the country.

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