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Supporting resilience in large-scale emergencies: Promising practices and do no harm issues

Prof. Michael Wessels

ln humanitarian crises, the primary emphasis of mental health and psychosocial responders is on deficits such as mental disorders, psychosocial distress, and increased vulnerability. Although analysis of these issues is essential, it is equally important to identify and build upon affected people's resilience and assets such as coping strategies and indigenous systems of support.

Recorded: October 2009, Dubrovnik - Cavtat, Croatia.
Coping & Resilience International Conference

Organiser: The Brisbane Institute of Strengths Based Practice

Michael Wessels
Michael  Wessels
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Prof. Michael Wessels

Michael Wessells, PhD, is Professor at Columbia University in the Program on Forced Migration and Health, Professor of Psychology at Randolph-Macon College.  He has served as President of the Division of Peace Psychology of the American Psychological Association and of Psychologists for Social Responsibility and as Co-Chair of the InterAction Protection Working Group. He is former Co-Chair of the IASC (UN-NGO) Task Force on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings which developed the first inter-agency, consensus guidelines for the field of mental health and psychosocial support in humanitarian crises. Currently, he is co-focal point on mental health and psychosocial support for the revision of the Sphere humanitarian standards. He has conducted extensive research on the holistic impacts of war and political violence on children, and he is author of Child soldiers: From violence to protection (Harvard University Press, 2006). He regularly advises UN agencies, governments, and donors on issues of psychosocial support. Throughout Africa and Asia he helps to develop community-based, culturally grounded programs that assist people affected by armed conflict.

SELECT PUBLICATIONS

Wessells M. (2003). Terrorism and the mental health and well-being of refugees and displaced people.  In F. Moghaddam & A. Marsella (Eds.), Understanding terrorism: Psychosocial roots, consequences, and interventions (247 – 263). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Wessells M, Monteiro C. (2004). Healing the wounds following protracted conflict in Angola: A community-based approach to assisting war-affected children. In U. P. Gielen, J. Fish, & J. G. Draguns (Eds.), Handbook of culture, therapy, and healing ( 321-341).  Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Wessells, M. (2005). Child soldiers, peace education, and post-conflict reconstruction for peace. Theory Into Practice, 44(4), 363-367.

Kostelny, K., & Wessells, M. (2005). Psychosocial aid to children after the December 26 tsunami. The Lancet, 366, 2066-2067.

Wessells M, Monteiro C. (2006). Psychosocial assistance for youth: toward reconstruction for peace in Angola. Journal of Social Issues, 62(1), 121-139.

Wessells M. (2006). Negotiating the shrunken humanitarian space: Challenges and options. In G. Reyes & G. Jacobs (Eds.), Handbook of disaster psychology, vol. 1 (147-164) Westport, CT: Praeger.

Wessells M. (2006). Child soldiering: Entry, reintegration, and breaking cycles of violence. In M. Fitzduff & C. Stout (Eds.), The psychology of resolving global conflicts: From war to peace, vol. 3 (243-266). Westport, CT: Praeger Security International

Wessells M. (2006) Child soldiers: from violence to protection. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Wessells, M. (2008). Do No Harm: Challenges in organizing psychosocial support to displaced people in emergency settings. Refuge, 25(1), 6-14.

Kostelny, K. & Wessells, M. (2008). The protection and psychosocial well-being of young children following armed conflict: Outcome research on child centered spaces in northern Uganda. The Journal of Developmental Processe, 3(2), 13-25.

Wessells, M., & Edgerton, A. (2008). What is child protection? Concepts and practices to support war-affected children. The Journal of Developmental Processes, 3(2), 2-12.

Wessells, M. (2009). Supporting the mental health and psychosocial well-being of former child soldiers. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 48 (6), 587-590.

Roe, M., Wessells, M., & McKay, S. (2009). Pioneers in peace psychology: M. Brewster Smith. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 14, 345-363.

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