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Psychosocial support for adolescent girls in post-conflict settings: beyond a health systems approach


Written by Nicola Jones, Fiona Samuels


This publication focuses on the importance of psychosocial support services for adolescent girls in fragile contexts. Adolescence is a pivotal time in the life course but given the physical, cognitive and emotional changes triggered by the onset of puberty, it can also be a period of heightened sensitivity and vulnerability to trauma, social isolation, bullying by peers, a lack of supportive adults, and gender-based and sexual violence.

The findings highlight why humanitarian and biomedical approaches in their current form are inadequate to address these complexities. Drawing on qualitative fieldwork (consisting of in-depth and key informant interviews, as well as group discussions in Gaza, Liberia and Sri Lanka involving a total of 386 respondents), the authors argue that going beyond biomedical approaches and considering the social determinants of health, including approaches to tackle discriminatory gendered norms and barriers to service access are critical for achieving broader health and wellbeing.

The publication reflects on actions to address psychosocial vulnerabilities facing adolescent girls. These include tailoring services to ensure gender and age-sensitivity; investing in capacity building of service providers to promote service uptake; and enhancing strategies to regulate and coordinate actors providing mental health and psychosocial support services.

Fiona Samuels, Nicola Jones and Bassam Abu Hamad