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Paper short abstract:
Adverse childhood/community experiences result in many Kenyan adolescents/youth wrestling with trauma-inflicted pasts. Proactive community-lead healing approaches help reconcile these wounds, but also potentially improve their envisioning of better futures for themselves and future generations.
Paper long abstract:
Youth and adolescents in Kenya and across much of Africa experience chronic stress and trauma due to high levels of poverty, unemployment, domestic violence, police harassment, violent crime, and terrorism (i.e., youth being recruited by the Somalia-based al-Shabaab terrorist group). Evidence shows that the utilisation of community-led trauma healing interventions oriented around holistic mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) approaches within these marginalised groups result in improved agency, social cohesion, and resilience among youth. This research project explores how these MHPSS projects can systematically address poverty, justice, and mental health by potentially increasing individuals' futures consciousness and subsequent proactive decision-making regarding their future. Neurobiological studies using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging reveal that reflecting on the past and thinking about the future are processed in the same regions of the brain. Therefore, unresolved, constraint-laden, traumatising, unhealed pasts can lead to limited abilities to envision a better future. If the past can be reconciled and healed, the neurobiological foundation for engaging with more informed and effective futures thinking could be restored. This study addresses this gap, but also provides empirical evidence to support the Triple Dividend—a World Health Organization (WHO) concept that holds with increased investments now with adolescents (10-19-year-olds) on issues related to their health and wellbeing can yield a "triple dividend" of benefits that will transform 1) the capabilities of the current adolescent population; 2) their future trajectories of health/wellbeing into adulthood; and 3) their ability to increase the welfare of their own children, i.e. the next generation.
Grassroots tactics and solutions