In 2014, Liberia experienced a devastating Ebola epidemic that hit the communities hard, causing immense psychological distress. As the MHPSS Lead of the Ministry of Health of Liberia for the Incident Management Team of Montserrado County, I had the privilege of working alongside Dr. Patricia Omidian to help the affected communities. Our primary goal was to provide psychosocial support to these communities by applying the Community Healing Dialogues strategy and other interventions.
These approaches created a safe space for the affected people to gather periodically and share their stories and experiences. As facilitators, we listened to the communities and encouraged them to listen to each other as a way of healing. This approach proved highly effective as the communities began to heal and support each other while sharing their individual experiences and learning from each other. They also adopted coping mechanisms that worked for them, which was critical to their psychological well-being.
Through these interventions, the communities developed a sense of cohesion and ownership of their respective communities. They worked together to end the Ebola crisis. This experience was powerful, not only because it was critical to the psychological well-being of the communities but also because it showcased the power of community healing.