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Collective Trauma: There are currently more than 300 million people around the world suffering from depression, anxiety, and a variety of other mental illnesses. Though treatment is available, close to two-thirds of people suffering from a mental illness never seek help from a medical professional. Last week, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor hosted a Facebook Live event with Dr. Sousan Abadian, a Franklin Fellow with the Office of International Religious Freedom. Dr. Abadian’s research focuses on gender and atrocity prevention, as well as healing collective trauma and restoring cultural resilience, key factors in ending cycles of violence and poverty worldwide.

Collective trauma refers to an event or series of events that affects an entire community, often leading to more long-term mental health problems that can be transmitted transgenerationally or across communities. Thus, diplomats, journalists, workers from the nonprofit sector, researchers, emergency response teams, and other members of the global community who work with traumatized communities abroad are vulnerable to developing mental health challenges due to the nature of their work and surroundings.

Mental illnesses are often stigmatized, forcing many individuals to suffer in silence. In the context of diplomacy, mental health remains a pertinent issue. The mental health problems that are associated with collective trauma can cause individuals or communities to develop a fear of and mistrust for outsiders. Dr. Abadian explained that people suffering from trauma often isolate themselves in an effort to avoid remembering or processing difficult emotions. Because the response to trauma is often fight or flight, individuals and groups can also be more aggressive than usual. Thus, collective trauma may complicate diplomatic and cultural engagement efforts as it causes some individuals or communities to be less able and willing to cooperate and collaborate with those trying to assist them. Read more

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Collective Trauma: There are currently more than 300 million people around the world suffering from depression, anxiety, and a variety of other mental illnesses. Though treatment is available, close to two-thirds of people suffering from a mental illness never seek help from a medical professional. Last week, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor hosted a Facebook Live event with Dr. Sousan Abadian, a Franklin Fellow with the Office of International Religious Freedom. Dr. Abadian’s research focuses on gender and atrocity prevention, as well as healing collective trauma and restoring cultural resilience, key factors in ending cycles of violence and poverty worldwide.