Today in Kurdistan, we are seeing a mental health crisis, particularly among displaced Iraqis. SEED works to support survivors of violence and conflict to recover and rebuild their lives. Most conflict-affected survivors have experienced traumatic events, and many were exposed to extended periods of violence, torture, rape, and trafficking. Trauma, and mental health disorders in Kurdistan generally are not widely understood and people find it difficult to give/receive emotional support to those in need. Help SEED raise awareness about these issues by sharing these videos.

This set of six interviews is with two trauma specialists from the United States: Holly Aldrich (Director of the Center for Homicide Bereavement) and Barbara Hamm (Director of Victim Services at the Department of Community Health Improvements). Both women are also technical board members of the Center for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services (MHPSS) at Koya University. The Center for MHPSS was created to promote education, training and supervision, for both students of the Clinical Psychology Department at Koya University, as well as services providers already working in the field of MHPSS.

What is Trauma?

Part 1 – What is Trauma? Interview with trauma specialist from the United States: Holly Aldrich, Director of the Center for Homicide Bereavement, and Barbara Hamm, Director of Victim Services at the Department of Community Health Improvements – December 2017.

How do we explain trauma? Is trauma the same for everyone? What kind of trauma have people experienced in the Kurdistan Region?

We are introducing this four-part series on trauma to help raise awareness of the needs in our society, particularly among those that have been victims of violence, including sexual violence, conflict, and displacement.

Part 1 – Violence and Trauma – Interview with SEED’s Director of Psychological Services, Rezhna Mohammed, July 2016.

How has violence impacted the displaced?  What is trauma and what do they experience when they’ve been through a traumatic event?  Can people really recover from violence, including from sexual violence which many consider so shameful?  How can you treat trauma and what is needed?

Part 2 – Psychosocial Services – Interview with SEED’s Director of Psychological Services, Rezhna Mohammed, July 2016.

What are “psychosocial services” and how does that differ from psychological services? Why do we need them?  How does psychosocial service delivery work? Why does SEED deliver its mental health services along with so many other activities?  What does SEED’s comprehensive approach to care mean?  How do you help an individual recover in a society that is more focused on family and community? How do you engage the family?

Part 3 – Overcoming the Stigma of Getting Help Interview with SEED’s Director of Psychological Services

Given that in our society in Kurdistan, it can be considered shameful to ask for help, and mental health services are not widely acceptable, how do you overcome the stigma? What approaches does SEED apply in its work? How does SEED overcome these barriers and build trust relationships? How have you created a “safe space”? How does sexual violence impact people and how does SEED reach survivors of sexual and gender based violence?

Part 4 – Impact of a Population-Wide Trauma- Interview

The people of Kurdistan and Iraq have faced decades of persecution, violence, and conflict. What is the impact on people if they don’t have access to psychological services? How are the people of Kurdistan coping with decades of violence and trauma? Now we have a society, or community-wide trauma among the displaced, particularly among the Yezidi community. Are there lessons from our experience with Anfal, the genocidal campaign against the Kurds in the 1980s, that help us today with the current crisis? What is Kurdistan’s capacity to address a population-wide trauma?