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Neem Foundation presents a series of images displaying its use of art to provide mental health and psychosocial support to the survivors of the violent insurgency in the northeast of Nigeria as well as to foster peacebuilding and social cohesion in communities affected by the insurgency.

The use of expressive therapies complements individual and group talk therapies while peace murals complement sustained community council meetings that address community grievances. These expressive therapies which range from art therapy to psychodrama and strategic messaging through functional mediums and peace murals tap into long held traditional cultural practices to make healing and peacebuilding not only efficacious but also meaningful and contextually relevant.

About the discussants

Dr. Mark Abiye Iruayenema, Socio-Cognitive Psychologist, Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism and Strategic Communications expert

Dr. Mark Abiye Iruayenema is a Socio-Cognitive Psychologist, Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism and Strategic Communications expert. He has overseen the provision of peacebuilding and psychosocial support to over 20,000 survivors of the Boko Haram and ISWAP insurgency in the northeast of Nigeria in a programme recently launched by the United Nations as a global protocol for the provision of MHPSS.

He has overseen the institution of peace mechanisms in over 50 rural communities affected by the Boko Haram insurgency and through a UNICEF funded programme, overseen the rehabilitation and reintegration of thousands of children formerly associated with non-State armed groups. Through a UNICEF funded programme, he has also overseen the provision of psychosocial support to over 300 school boys kidnapped in Katsina State and to over 200 school girls kidnapped in Zamfara State.

Through a UNDP funded programme ‘Journey to Extremism 2’, Dr Iruayenama oversaw the collection and contextualisation of data from Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria and is currently leading a research programme on community-based reintegration in the northeast of Nigeria.

Dr Iruayenama has designed and delivered several capacity building curriculums and facilitation on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism and MHPSS, rehabilitation and reintegration for practitioners in Nigeria, Syria, Iraq and Indonesia. He co-worked on Hedayah – Global Counterterrorism Forum’s Blueprint for Rehabilitation and Reintegration Centres presented at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly and the Institute for Counter-Terrorism’s 20th World Summit. He created the Vulnerability to Violent Extremism Scale (VVES) used across several programmes in Nigeria and Syria.

He previously served in the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals and currently heads the Research and Psychology Departments at Neem Foundation. He has featured on several media outlets, including Aljazeera and has a PhD in Psychology from Brunel University London.

Dr Sharli Paphitis, Research Fellow IOPPN, King's College London 

Dr Sharli Anne Paphitis was a Senior Lecturer in Community Engagement and Philosophy at Rhodes University from 2014-2019. In 2016 she was awarded the Vice-chancellor's distinguished award medal for her critical public health work in Southern Africa. She is currently a Research Fellow at King’s College London, where she works as the co-director of the UKRI-funded Violence Abuse and Mental Health Network, runs the Modern Slavery Core Outcome Set (MS-COS) project, and is a collaborator on the NHIR Global Health Research Group developing a package of care for the mental health of survivors of violence in South Asia. Sharli teaches Women’s Mental Health, Culture and Mental Health, and Qualitative Research Methods at King’s College London, The University of London, and St George’s University London. She continues to be an Associate Researcher at Rhodes University, where she leads the South African site of the MRC/AHRC funded SHAER project using narrative therapeutic approaches to GBV-related trauma recovery, and leads NRF funded community-based participatory projects with displaced communities in protected areas of South Africa. 

About Neem Foundation

Neem Foundation is leading crisis response organisation committed to promoting the protection and wellbeing of populations and communities living in contexts affected by conflict, violence, and fragility and research partner with the King's African Leadership Centre and IOPPN.

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