Addressing the Psychosocial Needs of Young Men: The Case of Northern Ireland

Elizabeth Gallagher, Brandon Hamber

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The psychosocial impact of armed conflict in post-conflict societies has become an area of major focus globally and in post-conflict Northern Ireland. The study presented in this chapter explores how the impact of the conflict, as it applies to interventions with young men, is conceptualised in the context of post-Agreement Northern Ireland. The study examines the experiences and perspectives of young men (18-24 years old) in Northern Ireland and those working with young men. The study focuses on four groups undertaking psychosocial work, that is two generic young men support groups and two groups with an explicit focus on victims/survivors of the conflict. A total of 20 young men and 19 staff were individually interviewed. Semi-structured interview questions and the General Help-seeking Questionnaire (GHSQ) were used to ascertain how groups understand trauma and how they understand the impact of the conflict on young men. The findings showed that the challenges facing young people concern the interrelationship between the past, and a poor socio-economic context in the present. The young men in our study presented with stark and acute mental and social health challenges, and masculine ideologies were found to have a negative impact on men’s help-seeking intentions. The theme of resilience, risk and identity was also a critical component of the findings of the study. When it came to promoting such change both the staff and the young men tended to ascribe to a personal transformation model as the route to engagement with peacebuilding work. This chapter argues that the personal transformative model is emblematic of the wider peacebuilding debate in Northern Ireland, where psychosocial and peace-orientated programming has been separated out from wider peacebuilding strategies such as job creation. This highlights an analytical deficit in the psychosocial programming, as well as the peacebuilding and socio-economic fields.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPsychosocial Perspectives on Peacebuilding
EditorsBrandon Hamber, Elizabeth Gallagher
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-09937-8
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-09936-1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2015

Publication series

NamePeace Psychology Book Series


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