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Vol. 11 No. 2: April issue

​​Concerning ‘Neglect’​: Perspectives on the Prioritisation of Mental Health Conditions in Protracted Displacement Contexts

November 18, 2022


‘Neglect’ is a lucrative concept attracting billions of US dollars in research and development funding and transforming what is prioritised in global health. Stemming from a wider project aiming to improve healthcare at the intersection of gender and protracted displacement amongst Somali and Congolese internally displaced people and refugees, this article unpacks conceptualisations of ‘neglect’ in relation to mental health. Drawing on interviews with people with professional mental health expertise and/or lived experience of displacement, this article makes three contributions. First, we argue that ‘neglect’ must be considered in the context of competing health priorities and health-seeking behaviours, particularly given the additional challenges associated with disruption to social care networks in protracted displacement contexts. Second, we illustrate ‘neglect’ in light of our respondents’ distinctions between overt bodily expressions of distress that are socially disruptive and more internalised expressions of distress that are more socially containable. Third, we unpack the intersectional ‘neglect’ of women and girls by sexual violence’s distinctive confluence of social withdrawal with strategies of containment to avoid social disruption.