Psychological and social support

A holistic approach for gaining capacity to act

Since the mid-1990s, terre des hommes schweiz has worked successfully in countries whose populations are affected by disease, poverty and violence. At the heart of this work is a holistic consideration of the individual problems and the social environment. This is the only way that psychological and social assistance can help those affected to regain hope and become empowered members of their communities.

Girls give each other confirmation in a workshop by Ee'qanil.
Young people can only take control of their lives once they have overcome their sense of hopelessness.

In the countries of the Global South, people’s lives are often characterised by disease, poverty,violence, natural disasters and human rights violations. These living conditions greatly increase people’s vulnerability to social stigmas, marginalisation, impoverishment, violent incidents and human rights violations. Those affected become trapped in a cycle of poverty. With the help of psychological and social methods (psychosocial support – PSS), it is possible to break the cycle. The success of these methods is based on a dual approach: from the outset, each person’s individual psychology and social environment (their relationships, family, community, social values and culture) are taken into account. This kind of support is crucial for giving those affected hope that they will be able to regain agency over their own lives.

Girls who are forced to marry older men against their will – women and children who suffer from domestic or sexual violence – children and youth who become infected with HIV and have to take medication for their entire lives – children and youth who live in households without adults: all these experiences push people to their psychological limits. They feel powerless and helpless. Resigned to their fate, they lose faith in themselves and the belief that they can turn their lives around for the better. Trapped in this sense of hopelessness, they often isolate themselves or adopt very aggressive modes of behaviour. The only way to overcome the situation and regain their dignity is to work through their negative experiences. Only then can they regain their courage and become empowered.
It is important that traumatised children and youth receive individual guidance and psychological supportfrom our project partners. The aim is to overcome the abuse they have suffered, as well as the psychological and physical damage. An individualised approach helps them reach a point where they no longer simply see themselves a victim who is at the mercy of fate. Instead they begin to see themselves as a person with lots of different strengths, resources, dreams and desires that are waiting to be discovered. This approach is most effective in groups of children and youth who are in similar situations.

In groups of like-minded peers, children and youth share their experiences and learn to trust one another. This develops into a form of mutual support. They begin to actively cooperate and make joint decisions. Furthermore, they learn skills that will help them to meet the demands and overcome the challenges and changes in their lives. (Example project: Support for Aids orphans through the partner organisation Humuliza)

It incredibly important to create a supportive environment for children and young people as they learn to find ways of dealing with their difficult circumstances. That is why our partner organisations also work with the communities, families, carers and other key figures in the children and young people’s lives, and organise informative and awareness raising events about relevant topics.

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Access to social and emotional support

Cofounded by terre des hommes schweiz, the non-profit organization REPSSI (the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative) is dedicated to promoting and disseminating mental and social support.

Desk for Psychological and social support

Irene Bush
Desk for PSS and SFA
061 338 91 42 | Irene.Bush(a)
Irene BushDesk for PSS and SFA

061 338 91 42 | Irene.Bush(a)