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“Something in our hearts”: challenges to mental health among urban Mayan women in post‐war Guatemala

Paula Godoy‐Paiz (Based at Social Aetiology of Mental Illness (SAMI) Program, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Canada)
Brenda Toner (Based in the Social and Epidemiological Research Unit and Department of Psychiatry, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada)
Carolina Vidal (Based in the Women's Mental Health Program and Department of Psychiatry, Women's College Hospital and University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada)

Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care

ISSN: 1757-0980

Article publication date: 15 August 2011

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the long‐term mental health consequences of war from the perspectives of urban Mayan women in post‐war Guatemala.

Design/methodology/approach

Ethnographic methodologies, namely participant observation and in‐depth qualitative interviews were carried out during 12 months of fieldwork in Guatemala City.

Findings

The findings indicate that urban indigenous women confront a range of unresolved war‐related traumas and psychosocial distress that require specific attention by researchers, policy makers and service providers. It is argued that psychosocial interventions aimed at addressing the traumas of war must take into account present day conditions of post‐war violence, poverty, and social inequity that threaten the health and well‐being of indigenous peoples.

Practical implications

Recommendations are provided for promoting the mental health of urban indigenous women affected by war.

Originality/value

Research that has been conducted on the mental health effects of war has tended to focus on rural areas of the country. This article advances the research on post‐war Guatemala through a focus on urban Mayan indigenous women.

Keywords

Citation

Godoy‐Paiz, P., Toner, B. and Vidal, C. (2011), "“Something in our hearts”: challenges to mental health among urban Mayan women in post‐war Guatemala", Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care, Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 127-137. https://doi.org/10.1108/17570981111249266

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited