Study: Research

“Talking helps reduce pressure” MHPSS Insights and Perspectives from Participatory Workshops with Displaced Female Youth in the Kurdistan Region of the Republic of Iraq (KRI)

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Save the Children International

“Talking helps reduce pressure” is a follow-on to a joint research endeavor between Save the Children Denmark and Tufts University FIC’s research program Early Marriage Among Female Youth in Displacement.

The new study builds on the findings from the briefing The Cost of Being Female: Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) of Displaced Female Youth in South Sudan and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. This briefing started to unpack the MHPSS needs and challenges faced by adolescent girls and young women in displacement in connection with factors such as marital and motherhood status.

However, the briefing did not map out formal and informal sources of support, nor did it test solutions identified by the girls themselves. It was indicated that female youth in conflict have pressing MHPSS needs, and that their needs differ greatly depending on their marital status, and they have little access to formal MHPSS resources.

The objective of the new study is to support female youth in identifying and prioritizing the main mental health issues they face in relation to their experiences with early marriage, to describe which informal and formal coping strategies they rely on, and to point to potential solutions.

The applied approach is underpinned by the Child Marriage Research to Action Network, which among other issues focuses on holistic solutions, the recognition of power and diverse perspectives, as well as the relevance and accessibility of research findings. Study elements to highlight include:
• The value of participatory inclusive methods and the need for innovative approaches to be tested further in similar contexts.
• Female youth (non-married, early married, widowed and divorced) directly advised the researchers on potential MHPSS community-led interventions.
• The testing of recommendations by engaging with males.
• The constant need to understand the nuances between different groups at risk of early marriage and how they intersect with girls and women’s well-being and mental health.

• Adolescent girls and young women driving local solutions to their issues. The methodology promotes local leadership of female youth, while also integrating the perspectives of boys and men from the community into the discussion. It can be replicated in or at least adapted to other conflict or displacement settings. All exercises were developed in consultation with female youth, who decided on
which approaches made the most sense. Female youth are proactive, creative, and engaged in trying to manage and improve their lives, despite being faced with constraints. Results from the study were documented and shared back with the participants to make sure they reflected the discussions from the workshops.
• Addressing gaps in MHPSS services for children, adolescents and youth. The study maps out eight initiatives, designed by female youth themselves, to effectively support their mental health and psychosocial well-being when formal services are unavailable or inaccessible. See the full report for a detailed description of all eight interventions

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