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Exploring the Impact of Crisis and Trauma on the Mental Health and Psychological Well-Being of University Students in Northern Haiti

Michael Galvin1,2,3,*, Guesly Michel3, Henri-Claude Saintelmond4, Carolyn Lesorogol5, Jean-François Trani5, Lora Iannotti5

1 Harvard University, Cambridge, 02138, USA
2 Boston University, Boston, 02215, USA
3 Centre de Santé Mental de Morne Pelé, Cap-Haïtien, 2697, Haiti
4 Université Publique du Nord au Cap-Haïtien, Cap-Haïtien, 2697, Haiti
5 Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, 63130, USA

* Corresponding Author: Michael Galvin. Email: email

International Journal of Mental Health Promotion 2023, 25(2), 173-191.


In recent decades, Haiti has been subject to man-made and natural disasters that have left its citizens vulnerable to a range of shocks. With a weak state unable to protect its populace, Haitians are exposed to some of the highest levels of poverty and violence in the Western Hemisphere. In recent years, Haitians have experienced two crises that this study analyzes: the instability and political violence of “peyi lòk” as well as the global pandemic of COVID-19. This community-based assessment explores the impact of these two crises on the mental health and psychological well-being of 38 Haitian university students in the understudied northern part of the country. Results indicate that both crises had similarities related to their psychological effects on young people, most notably in terms of traumatic experiences related to threats or violence, forced confinement, and large increases in population-wide uncertainty. Additionally, the extreme violence of “peyi lòk” and the widespread unpredictability of COVID-19 and its effects in the early days of the pandemic resulted in high levels of stress and fear. Both crises also resulted in extreme economic hardship for students, with many reporting difficulties accessing basic needs such as food and water. This study highlights how converging population-level crises in “complex emergencies” can heighten trauma and compromise mental health.


Cite This Article

Galvin, M., Michel, G., Saintelmond, H., Lesorogol, C., Trani, J. et al. (2023). Exploring the Impact of Crisis and Trauma on the Mental Health and Psychological Well-Being of University Students in Northern Haiti. International Journal of Mental Health Promotion, 25(2), 173–191.

cc This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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