Mental health and adaptation of young Liberians in post-conflict Liberia: a key informant's perspective

Silvia Dominguez, Christina P.C. Borba, Batool Fatima, Deborah A. Gray, Caroline Stinehart, Gabrielle Murphy, Edward K.S. Wang, Benjamin L. Harris, David C. Henderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Civil wars have been raging in regions of Africa, bringing tremendous emotional and physical mayhem and destruction to populations and infrastructures. Much attention has been given to descriptions of child soldiers and the war, but little is known about the circumstances of young Liberians in post-conflict situations. This study explores the ways in which young Liberians are surviving in the post-conflict Liberian context. We used qualitative data collected in Liberia using key informants focusing on individuals who work with young Liberians. We found that young Liberians are suffering from trauma and are engaging in violence, substance abuse, and sexual violence. They have also developed mechanisms for survival that include a high level of adultification, a phenomenon by which young people take on adult responsibilities. Key informants felt that young Liberians have problems respecting authority and accepting help. Furthermore, they are influenced by negative peers. These behaviors increase young Liberians' participation in high-risk behaviors, exacerbate existing trauma, and raise serious questions about the rebuilding of Liberia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-224
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Culture and Mental Health
Volume6
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • adaptation
  • mental health
  • post-conflict
  • youth

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