Ageing, Health and Conflict: An Investigation of the Experience and Health Impact of ‘Troubles-Related’ Trauma
Resource type: Research Report
Bamford Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing and the Northern Ireland Centre for Trauma & Transformation Trust |
Some older people in Northern Ireland who had traumatic experiences during the violent “Troubles” are still suffering 30 to 40 years later from mental health conditions, according to new research. This study examined the experience and impact of ‘Troubles-related’ trauma among individuals aged 45 and older. Those individuals are the ones who grew up during the height of the civil conflict in the 1970s and 1980s that was in part between Protestants and Catholics.
The research showed that someone who experienced a traumatic event related to the conflict is 3 times more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression and or alcohol abuse than someone who has not had a trauma. Such traumatic events include living as a civilian in a region of terror, and witnessing the death or serious injury of someone.
“In 1976 a bomb exploded in a bar… as I had just left the premises. My husband and mother were still inside. Two people were killed and 30 people injured.”
Nearly 50 percent of those who had experienced such a trauma showed evidence of at least one treatable mental health condition when interviewed decades later for this research, which was conducted by the Bamford Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing at the University of Ulster and the Northern Ireland Centre for Trauma and Transformation Trust.
People with mental health concerns related to traumatic experiences typically seek help from their primary care provider. Because these providers play such a critical role, government and funders should support initiatives to help them better detect and treat trauma in their patients, researchers said. Providers can also use assistance in understanding when to refer their patients to specialists.
Bamford Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing at the University of Ulster and the Northern Ireland Centre for Trauma & Transformation Trust are Atlantic grantees.