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Participatory Humanitarianism: Linking Mental Health Data to Action with Older Refugees and Refugees with Disabilities as Co-Researchers

Research Team

Name Name

Principal Investigator: Julie Tippens

Co-Principal Investigators: Angela Palmer-Wackerly

Funding Information

Funding Agency: Enhanced Learning & Research for Humanitarian Assist (ELRHA) Humanitarian Innovation Fund

Award Date: Apr 1, 2023

End Date: Nov 30, 2024


Despite a proliferation of mental health and psychosocial support programming to address the social and emotional repercussions of disaster, conflict and forced migration in low- and middle-income countries, older people and people with disabilities are underrepresented in mental health and psychosocial support data collection. Additionally, they have limited access to, and participation in, wellness-promoting interventions in humanitarian settings. 

This project aims to address this critical gap by designing and evaluating a methodologically flexible, interactive mental health and psychosocial support research toolkit, tentatively called "HESHIMA: A Guide to Collaborative and Inclusive Health Research in Humanitarian Settings." 

"Heshima" is Kiswahili for respect or dignity. For this project, the HESHIMA acronym stands for Honoring Experiences and Shared Humanity in Mobilizing for Action.

The toolkit will address research ethics, responsible data collection and storage to maintain confidentiality, developing and maintaining partnerships, multi-stakeholder communication, data collection procedures matched to example research questions or action priorities, dissemination strategies and how to use evidence to foster action and promote community health. 

This project represents a collaboration among researchers and health providers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), Amref Health Africa, Amref International University, the Albinism Society of Kenya and HelpAge Kenya. 

The UNL team will co-develop a collaborative research protocol (including trainings for team members in research ethics and data confidentiality); conduct a six-step innovation mapping framework to co-develop the toolkit in collaboration with program partners and community advisory board members; test and validate the toolkit with older refugees and refugees with disabilities in Nairobi; and finalize and disseminate deliverables — the toolkit, a lessons learned guide, research briefs, and publications and conference presentations.

Psychosocial Development & Social-Emotional Learning

Included in the research team are, from left, Lucy Njiru, lead principal investigator, Amref International University/Amref Health Africa; Julie Tippens, associate professor of child youth and family studies; Angela Palmer-Wackerly, associate professor of health communication; and Alice Lakati, Amref International University.
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