Conflict, peace and mental health

Addressing the consequences of conflict and trauma in Northern Ireland

Conflict poses considerable challenges for services that support communities, and in particular those affected by violence. This book describes the work undertaken in Omagh against the background of the most recent period of violent conflict in Ireland, and specifically it draws upon the work following the Omagh bombing. The bombing came just four months after the Northern Ireland peace agreement, known formally as the Belfast Agreement of 1998, and more informally as the Good Friday Agreement. The book describes the impact of the bomb and the early responses. Local trade unions, employers and the business community played key roles at times, particularly in underlining the need for solidarity and in identifying themselves with the desire for peace. The book looks at the outcome of needs-assessments undertaken following the Omagh bombing. The efforts to understand the mental health and related impact of the violence associated with the Troubles in Northern Ireland over the period 1969 to 2015 are focused in detail. The later efforts to build services for the benefit of the wider population are described, drawing upon the lessons gained in responding to the Omagh bombing. The developments in therapy, in training and education, and in research and advocacy are described with reference to the work of the Northern Ireland Centre for Trauma and Transformation (NICTT). The book draws together key conclusions about the approaches that could be taken to address mental health and well-being as an essential component of a peace-building project.

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‘If there is one book that should be required reading for our MLAs, it is [this]. The book is a timely reminder that while the Assembly remains suspended and political progress remains stalled, victims and survivors of violence continue to live with the consequences of the past…The book is also designed to appeal to an international audience. There is much to be learned and applied from the examples of good practice developed in the aftermath of Omagh and in the research/evidence-based approach of the partnership between NICTT and Ulster University…I am heartened that people in other parts of the world may learn from those who have suffered in Northern Ireland. But I hope that the learning in Northern Ireland itself has not stopped, and that our politicians and policy makers heed Bolton's message about what remains to be done.'
Gladys Ganiel
Slugger O'toole
October 2017

‘This is a timely book to remind us what happens when we don't nourish peace or build public infrastructures to ensure that violence and injustice cannot succeed. It is timely not only because of recent events in Northern Ireland that might evoke divisions from the past, but also because of recent events in London and Manchester, hate crime, and the shortcomings of democratic voting- not to mention also the importance of looking now at the intergenerational problems that await the people in Syria and other Middle East Countries.'
British Journal of Psychology

‘What prompted Bolton to write the book was the conflict in Syria and, before that, in Iraq. He hopes it will be of use to counsellors and psychiatrists and psychotherapists and anyone trying to deal with the traumatic impact of conflict.'
Gerry Moriarty
Irish Times
August 2017

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