Comparing Mental Health and Socio-Economic Programming for Survivors of Sexual Violence in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo

This study aimed to identify low-cost, scalable interventions that demonstrably improve the mental, social, physical, and economic functioning of survivors of sexual violence living in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). While social and economic development in  conflict-affected areas like eastern DRC relies on populations who are ready and able to work, the psychological effects of conflict and sexual violence may mean that survivors living in these low-resource areas are less able  to engage in economic opportunities even when they are available. Currently, little data exists on which strategies are most effective at helping survivor increase their ability to function.

This  project  investigated  the impact of  a mental health  intervention (interpersonal  psychotherapy) and a socio-economic  program (VSLAs) on specific domains  of social, physical, and economic functioning, and on the reduction of mental health problems associated  with experiencing sexual violence, including depression, anxiety, and feelings of stigma and shame. While the program was diverse in terms of its elements and who received them, the evidence from this study suggests that  a service program can improve the mental health and functioning of women affected by GBV.

The Airbel Impact Lab at IRC is a team of researchers, strategists and innovators committed to the accelerated design, rigorous evaluation and cost-effective scaling of the most impactful solutions supporting people affected by crisis.