Recently, discussions have considered how mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) can build upon local resilience in war-affected settings. To contribute to the knowledge in this field, the paper explored the gap between MHPSS and local communities in terms of perceived mental health problems and healing processes, and how the gap could be filled. Qualitative research was conducted in northern Rwanda with 43 participants between 2015 and 2016. Findings revealed how three particular gaps can isolate MHPSS recipients in their local community. First, whereas MHPSS applies bio-psychological frameworks to post-genocide mental health, community conceptualisations emphasise social aspects of suffering. Second, unlike MHPSS which encourages ‘talking’ about trauma, ‘practicing’ mutual support plays a major role in the community healing process. Third, MHPSS focuses on one part of the community (those who share the same background) and facilitates their healing in intervention groups. However, healing in natural communities continues in everyday life, through mutual support among different people. Despite these gaps, MHPSS recipients can be (re)integrated into the community through sharing suffering narratives and sharing life with other community members. The paper highlights the ways in which MHPSS could inclusively support different social groups in the overall geographical community, allowing members to preserve the existing reciprocity and recover collective life through their own initiatives.
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