Political violence and mental health: a multi-disciplinary review of the literature on Nepal

Soc Sci Med. 2010 Jan;70(1):35-44. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2009.09.037. Epub 2009 Oct 14.


Implementation of current international consensus guidelines regarding mental health and psychosocial support in emergencies requires the consideration of findings from both the medical and social sciences. This paper presents a multi-disciplinary review of reported findings regarding the relations between political violence, mental health and psychosocial wellbeing in Nepal. A systematic search of six databases resulted in the identification of 572 studies, of which 44 were included in the review. These studies investigated the influence of political violence on contextual variables that shape mental health and psychosocial wellbeing, and examined psychological distress and mental disorders in the context of political violence. The majority of studies addressed the mental health of Bhutanese refugees in Nepal and the impact of the Maoist People's War. Based upon these results from Nepal, we discuss a number of issues of concern to international researchers and practitioners and present policy and research recommendations. Specifically, we consider (a) the need for longitudinal multi-disciplinary research into protective and risk factors, including agency, of psychological distress and mental disorders in situations of political violence, (b) the continuing controversy regarding the PTSD construct, and (c) the lack of robust findings regarding the effectiveness of mental health and psychosocial support.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Health
  • Nepal / epidemiology
  • Politics*
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Violence / psychology*
  • Warfare