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Mental Healthcare for Survivors of Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking: A Single Point-in-Time, Internet-Based Scoping Study of Third Sector Provision



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Mental Healthcare for Survivors of Modern Slavery
and Human Trafficking: A Single Point-in-Time,
Internet-Based Scoping Study of Third Sector
Runa Lazzarino, Nicola Wright & Melanie Jordan
To cite this article: Runa Lazzarino, Nicola Wright & Melanie Jordan (2022): Mental
Healthcare for Survivors of Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking: A Single Point-in-Time,
Internet-Based Scoping Study of Third Sector Provision, Journal of Human Trafficking, DOI:
To link to this article:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published with
license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
Published online: 31 Jan 2022.
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Mental Healthcare for Survivors of Modern Slavery and Human
Tracking: A Single Point-in-Time, Internet-Based Scoping Study of
Third Sector Provision
Runa Lazzarino
, Nicola Wright
, and Melanie Jordan
Research Centre for Transcultural Studies in Health, Department of Mental Health and Social Work, Middlesex
University, London, UK;
School of Health Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK;
School of Sociology
and Social Policy, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
In response to extreme violence and psychological abuse, survivors of
Modern Slavery and Human Tracking can experience complex mental
health problems. Despite being a major public health issue, the evidence
base for post-slavery mental health support needs and service provision is
lacking. The aim of this study was to scope the mental health provision
available to survivors globally. A single point-in-time, Internet-based scoping
study of on-line evidence sources was performed, guided by Levac and
colleagues’ six-staged framework. Service providers meeting inclusion cri-
teria were 325. Most were located in Asia and South America, catered for
a female population, and could be categorized as Christian Faith Based. Two
overarching themes (Characteristics of Provision and Types of Mental Health
Support) accounted for the results, each including ten sub-themes. Survivors’
mental healthcare was found to be informed by various models and to exist
within a nexus of care whereby several services are oered to dierent
vulnerable populations. Little information of evidence-based interventions
and monitoring and evaluation was found. The study’s results are limited in
scope of inuence due to the Internet-based design and should be taken
cautiously. More empirical, multidisciplinary, and multi-stakeholder research
is required to improve understanding of survivors’ support needs and to
inform policies and practices that are culturally competent, survivor-
centered, gender-inclusive and empowering.
Human trafficking; modern
slavery; global mental
healthcare; NGOs;
internet-based scoping study
Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking (MSHT) entail forms of unfree labor involving the violation
of migrant, labor, and human rights (Fudge, 2017). Obtaining an accurate picture of how many people
are enslaved is problematic, given the ongoing debate regarding definition, the different systems of
measurement, and the hidden nature of the phenomenon (Broome & Quirk, 2015; Weitzer, 2015).
A recent estimate is that the number of people enslaved worldwide is 40.3 million (Walk Free
Foundation, 2018). In addition, the number of detected victims for sexual exploitation is growing,
in particular minors and vulnerable migrants at risk of exploitation (United Nations Office on Drugs
and Crime, 2018).
With regards to terminology, human trafficking has dominated the legislative, humanitarian
and media landscape following the adoption of the Protocol on Trafficking in Persons in 2000
(United Nations, 2000). Whilst modern slavery has no legal basis within international provisions,
CONTACT Runa Lazzarino Research Centre for Transcultural Studies in Health, Department of Mental
Health and Social Work, Middlesex University, The Burroughs, London NW4 4BT, UK
RL and NW share co-first authorship of the manuscript
© 2022 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (,
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
and it is a term that is gaining increasing prominence within the academic, policy, and public
discourse, not without criticism of its rhetorical appeal (Bravo, 2019; Quirk, 2011). For example,
the UK Modern Slavery Act (The UK Government, 2015) defines it in relation to the 1926 Slavery
Convention as:
The status or condition of a person over whom all or any powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised.
Since legal ownership of a person is not possible, the key element of slavery is the behaviour on the part of the
offender as if he or she did own the person, which deprives the victim of their freedom.
In simple terms, whereas definitions of human trafficking imply that people are recruited and
transported, modern slavery acknowledges that individuals may become enslaved without necessa-
rily being moved from their communities. This study adopted a broad working definition, and
modern slavery is, therefore, conceived as an umbrella term that focuses on human-to-human
exploitation in relation to activities such as: forced sex work, domestic servitude, forced/servile
marriage, debt bondage, forced labor in industries, forced criminal activity and the sale or exploita-
tion of children.
Post-Slavery Mental Health
MSHT are public health issues that disproportionally affect vulnerable individuals such as young
people, migrants, and those living in poverty (Chisolm-Straker & Stoklosa, 2017; Zimmerman & Kiss,
2017). Survivors have often experienced extreme physical and psychological abuses (Hossain et al.,
2010), and addressing their mental health is now part of anti-trafficking policies in the UK and
internationally (The UK Government, 2015; United Nations, 2000). The most recent systematic review
available (Ottisova et al., 2016) highlighted a high prevalence of mental ill health amongst survivors in
contact with support services. However, the same study also concluded that methodological problems
and disparateness of results are so significant as to limit both “comparability of studies and reliability
of findings” (Ottisova et al., 2016). In addition, the majority of empirical studies has focused on
women trafficked for sexual exploitation and those who have recently escaped exploitation, whereas
less is known about women trafficked for other forms of exploitation, or the mental health needs of
male and LGBTQ+ groups (Ottisova et al., 2016; Twigg, 2017).
Taking these limitations into account, what has been identified is a complex picture of mental ill
health with depression, anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) being particularly pre-
valent (Abas et al., 2013; Borschmann et al., 2016; Oram et al., 2016). For young people who have been
trafficked, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), adjustment disorders, and complex
PTSD are also common (Ottisova et al., 2018; Stanley et al., 2016; Wood, 2020). This picture looks
similar across different contexts and populations, regardless of the type of slavery (Katona et al., 2015).
However, the prevalence of similar mental health problems affecting survivors of violence and abuse
does not necessarily indicate that the response should always be the same (Betancourt et al., 2014;
Gajic-Veljanoski & Stewart, 2007); and in fact variations in support needs across types of exploitation
are being further investigated (Rose et al., 2020). Furthermore, the evidence of effects of interventions
with survivors is sparse and far from rigorous (Wright, 2021; Brunovskis & Surtees, 2007; Dell et al.,
2017; Ottisova et al., 2016). Finally, no research has tested “the potential to adapt various therapies for
survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault or refugees such as, for example, cognitive behavioral
therapy (CBT), trauma-focused CBT (TF-CBT), peer-support and psycho-education” to cater for
MSHT survivors’ support needs (Hemmings et al., 2016, p. 5; Shigekane, 2007), although this may be
a sensible practical choice to make on behalf of service providers.
Nevertheless, lack of research does not necessarily equate to a lack of service provision. There is
a question as to where survivors get support with their mental health and what the evidence base is for
the provision offered. Statutory mental health services, such as those provided within the UK, might
offer some support to survivors who are able to access and navigate the system (Westwood et al., 2016);
but the training needs of healthcare professionals to best support this population are still in
development (Thompson et al., 2017; Williamson et al., 2019). Concerns about authority figures,
mistrust in the system, immigration status, and language barriers may mean that this route is
problematic (Stanley et al., 2016).
Globally, most support for survivors post-release is delivered by the third sector, e.g., Non-
Governmental Organizations (NGOs). This often includes a mental health component. However,
what these organizations provide, to whom and the evidence base underpinning it have not been
explored or mapped in a systematic way on a global scale. To start to address this gap, a single point-in
-time, Internet-based study was conducted. By undertaking a scoping exercise of on-line evidence
sources, we sought to (1) explore the mental health provision offered by third sector organizations to
survivors of MSHT and (2) discuss the results against available literature relating to MSHT survivors’
mental health care.
Materials and Methods
Terms such as scoping study, evidence mapping, rapid review and literature mapping are often used
interchangeably to describe the process of producing a topographical account of a topic, which has not
been synthesized before, in order to guide future research (Arksey & O’Malley, 2005). The current
study was inspired by (Colquhoun et al., 2014, p. 1291) definition:
A scoping review or scoping study is a form of knowledge synthesis that addresses an exploratory research
question aimed at mapping key concepts, types of evidence and gaps in research related to a defined area or field.
In particular, our design adapted the framework of Levac et al. (2010), which was originally proposed
by Arksey and O’Malley (2005), and further systematized by Peters et al. (2017). We aimed to map and
understand trafficking and post-slavery mental healthcare in third sector organizations with an on-line
presence at one point in time (i.e., January to June 2018). According to this framework, a scoping
review is organized into six key stages: 1) Identifying the research question; 2) Identifying relevant
studies; 3) Study selection; 4) Charting the data; 5) Collating, summarizing and reporting the results;
6) Consultation (optional). As this was not a review of the literature and did not include academic
publications, these stages were adapted for the purpose of scoping, identifying, and selecting relevant
on-line information in relation to mental health service provision delivered by third sector organiza-
tions. The sixth optional stage of expert consultation was not conducted. This was due to time and
funding constraints and sufficient fieldwork-based knowledge and experience within the research
team. As the research used publicly available data from the Internet ethical approval was not required.
Identifying the Research Questions
The following research questions guided the Internet-based scoping study: 1) What does an on-line
single point-in-time study tell us about the state of the mental health provision for MSHT survivors on
a global scale as evidenced in on-line sources? For example, what type of organizations offer mental
health support? What therapeutic approaches are available?; 2) What do on-line sources tell us about
mental health support within the wider NGO assistance offer to MSHT survivors?; 3) To what extent is
the provision of mental healthcare informed by research?
Identifying Relevant On-line Sources
In scoping reviews, searching “may be quite iterative as reviewers become more familiar with the
evidence base, additional keywords and sources, and potentially useful search terms may be discovered
and incorporated into the search strategy” (Peters et al., 2017). Accordingly, we developed a six-stage,
multi-strategy approach to identify relevant organizations. All searches were conducted on-line
between January and June 2018 to provide a snapshot of mental health provision at a single point in
(1) Free text search using the internet search engine Google. As recommended by Arksey and O’Malley
(2005), broad keywords and search terms were adopted to enable the breadth of the available
information to be covered. Search terms were developed relating to the four key concepts under-
pinning our review question: “human trafficking”; “modern slavery”; “mental healthcare”; and
“NGOs”, and combined using Boolean operators. In particular, the search terms used were
a combination taken from four domains related to: MSHT (“slavery”, “modern slavery”, “human
trafficking”, “trafficking”, “anti-trafficking” “post-slavery”, “post-trafficking”); mental health
(“mental”, “psych*”, “trauma”, “counsel*”); the third sector (“NGOs”, “organizations”, “services”,
“provision”); and location consisting of toponyms for world regions (e.g., Southeast Asia) and
country names (e.g., Ghana). With this search strategy, we pilot searched one world region (e.g.,
Southeast Asia), and this suggested that screening 200 hits per search terms’ combination led to data
saturation. Therefore, we decided to screen 200 hits using five sets of terms’ combinations from the
four domains, corresponding to 1,000 hits per each of the ten world regions we used, as described
below (i.e., total hits screened N = 10,000). Furthermore, as this search strategy was returning
excessive numbers of hits – where results were frequently consisting of academic publications or
news articles, and few service providers (8%) – more purposeful search strategies were developed
(see below 2, 3, 4, and 6).
(2) Reviewing relevant United Nations agency websites for information. These were: International
Organization of Migration, International Labor Organization, UN Office on Drugs and Crime,
World Health Organization, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment,
UN Human Rights Council and United Nations Children Fund;
(3) Reviewing websites of the main world regional organizations: the European Union, European
Union Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection, Association of South East Asian Nations, South
Common Market, South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation and Organizations of
American States;
(4) Searching specific slavery/human trafficking directories or indexes, three of which were global
(End Slavery Now, Global Modern Slavery Directory, Slavery Today Non-Governmental
Organization listing) and three specific to the United States of America (Abolition Now,
National Human Trafficking Directory and Charity Navigator). Where possible search filters
were applied within a directory to identify more easily those organizations providing mental
health support;
(5) Snowball sampling: if an organization’s website referred to another service providing relevant
mental health support, then this too was considered for inclusion.
(6) When a relevant report was made available from an organization website, this was downloaded
and scrutinized, including the five most recent global reports available on human trafficking at
the time the searches were completed (i.e., IOM, 2017; U.S. Department of State, 2017; United
Nations, 2015; UNODC, 2016; Walk Free Foundation, 2016).
To assist with managing the collation, screening, and extraction of data, the information
obtained was divided into ten geographical regions (i.e., North America, South America, South
Asia, Southeast Asia, Australia, the Pacific, Europe, Africa, continental Asia, and the Far East).
To ensure consistency, two researchers independently screened one region (Southeast Asia).
Following comparison of the results, 85% consistency was obtained, and the remaining regions
were screened by one researcher. No software has been used for the management of the results
of the search. The reviewer collated the sources by copy-pasting relevant text from organizations’
websites onto a MS Word file and shared it in a secured university cloud drive with the research
team. The team then independently reviewed the first 20%, or 20 sources extracted and collated
(whichever was the lower); divergences in relation to the inclusion of a source have been
resolved by team discussion.
On-line Sources Selection
Organizations were eligible for inclusion if, according to the information provided in their websites or
other on-line documents, they met one of the characteristics of the following three categories:
(1) They were devoted to designing, delivering and evaluating mental health support packages for
survivors of MSHT;
(2) Their service offering included a mental health support package and made available resources
on it;
(3) They stated that they provided some mental health support as part of an array of services.
Organizations in Categories 2 and 3 were included if, along with other vulnerable groups, they also
provided support to MSHT survivors. International, or large organizations supervising and funding
services delivered directly by local partners were included too. Only on-line sources published between
January 2000, the year of the adoption of the Trafficking Protocol, and June 2018 and in the following
languages were reviewed: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and French. The authors undertook all
translations. Organizations were not included if they had no website or visibility on the Internet, or
they did not provide information in one of the aforementioned languages. Figure 1 summarizes the
selection of organizations in accordance with PRISMA guidelines. Main reasons for exclusion were: 1)
duplication, 2) no provision of mental healthcare, 3) mental healthcare offered only in terms of referral
to other specialized services, and/or being outsourced.
Charting the Data
Details and data from included sources have been extracted using a standardized data extraction form for
the organizations in Categories 1 and 2, and subsequently summarized in an Excel file. Given the smaller
amount of relevant information available from NGOs in Category 3, relevant data from those were input
directly into the Excel file. Extraction of data from two sources was verified by the team members and
discrepancies were discussed until consensus was reached. Information was charted in two broad categories:
(1) Evidence source details and characteristics (URL and general data on the organization, such as
name, target population/s, location/s of intervention, if denominational).
(2) Mental healthcare provision (i.e., scope of mental healthcare within the generic support
available; specificity of interventions/approaches for a survivor population; type of support
available; any written reports; any research studies conducted by the organization or cited to
support the work undertaken)
Following Peters et al. (2017), charted findings were both organized in a tabular form and
thematically analyzed to offer a descriptive synthesis. Deductive thematic analysis guided by the
research questions was performed to narratively summarize results. Analysis was informed by
Ritchie and Spencer (1994) five-step process entailing: carefully reading the data (i.e., familiarization);
identifying and grouping them into categories (i.e., thematic framework and indexing); and finally
charting, reading and discussing results (i.e., charting, mapping and interpretation).
Our single point-in-time study yielded a total of 1,327 organizations, and 325 of these met the
inclusion criteria. Table 1 organizes key numerical data into the main world areas searched. The
table includes data in relation to the three categories guiding organizations’ inclusion; whether serving
survivors of MSHT exclusively; whether denominational; if operating transnationally; and the gender
of target beneficiaries.
Information regarding the gender of the target populations is missing for 189 organizations.
Among these organizations, beneficiaries can be assembled into the four following main groups:
minors and young people (n = 71); victim/survivors of MSHT, violence, and human rights abuse
(n = 38); vulnerable communities (n = 19); and vulnerable workers, migrants and refugees
(n = 17). Among the 10 organizations with a service for males, only four declared to cater
exclusively for men (n = 1) or boys (n = 3). Only one organization reported serving MSHT
offenders. Two hundred and thirty-two organizations did not declare any religious affiliation,
one stated it was non-denominational and the rest (28%, n = 92) reported to be situated in the
Christian faith. Organizations active within the same world area (n = 8) were not included
within the organizations counted as transnational; this means that 68% (n = 220) of included
providers appeared to be local. Results are described under the two overarching themes:
Characteristics of Global Provision and Types of Mental Health Support. Figure 2 summarizes
the subthemes which relate to these superordinate themes. All quotes are from publicly available
sources, for example, NGOs’ websites.
Organizations name and
short description screened
(n = 1327)
Organizations website and
resources screened
(n = 344)
Organizations selected for
(n = 325)
Organizations excluded
(n = 831)
Organizations identified
through multi-strategy
(n = 1327)
Organizations homepage
(n = 496)
Organizations excluded
(n = 152)
Organizations excluded
with reasons
[i.e., duplication, no mental
healthcare provided, mental
healthcare outsourced, mental
healthcare as referral service]
(n = 19)
Figure 1. Flow diagram illustrating organizations search process.
Table 1. Synthesis of numerical results per world areas.
World areas
NGOs in
NGOs in
NGOs in
NGOs only serving
MSHT victims/
NGOs serving
NGOs serving male
population (including
Christian Faith
Australia and the Pacific 14 0 4 10 3 3 0 6 7
Continental Asia and the Far East 4 0 0 4 0 3 0 1 0
South East Asia 71 0 18 53 3 26 4 25 25
South Asia 63 0 18 45 2 31 2 11 16
Africa 16 0 0 16 5 6 0 3 3
Europe and the Middle East 36 2
9 25 17 14 0 5 8
Central and South America 68 0 16 52 5 29 1 24 29
North America 53 2
16 35 5 20 4 17 9
Total 325 4 (1%) 81 (25%) 240 (74%) 40 132 10 92 97
* Category 1 includes organizations devoted to designing, delivering and evaluating mental health support packages specifically for survivors of MSHT; in Category 2, organizations’ service offering
included a mental health support package, for MSHT survivors and other vulnerable populations, and made available resources on it; in Category 3, organizations stated they provided some mental
health support as part of an array of services, for MSHT survivors and other vulnerable populations.
Characteristics of Provision
The term mental health, articulated with information describing specific psychotherapeutic
approaches (e.g., interpersonal therapy, trauma-informed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy-CBT,
and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing-EMDR), is used by the four organizations
belonging to Category 1 (i.e., Helen Bamber Foundation, Sanar Wellness Institute/Polaris,
EmancipAction and Freedom Fund with its partners), and by three organizations in Category
2 (i.e., Salaam Baalak Trust in India, Deborah’s Gate in Canada, and Hagar International in
Southeast Asia). The term mental health was mentioned by other nine NGOs, which were not
MSHT specific, but broadly serving vulnerable migrants and victims of abuses (the only MSHT
specific providers was Washington Anti-trafficking Response, a USA-based provider). The invol-
vement of/referral to a clinical team, able to provide psychiatric consultation, was mentioned by
2% (n = 7) of organizations.
By contrast, a variety of terms to generically describe the mental health support offered were
identified. These included psychological, psycho-social, emotional support/intervention/assis-
tance, therapeutic care, individual, family, and group counseling, and victim- and community-
centered (psycho)therapy. This broad mental health support is accompanied by several descrip-
tors, such as comprehensive, holistic, ecological, integral approach/program and continuum of
care. All these terms indicate that mental health support is offered within a wider package of
care, including other services (e.g., medical care, financial support, legal assistance, vocational
training, social work support, child support, worship/spiritual guidance, nutrition, life skills
training, accommodation/shelter, education). Results indicate that such package of services
characterizes all NGOs in Category 3, n = 37 NGOs in Category 2, and one in Category 1 –
meaning that 86% of our sample offers some form of integral support. In Argentina, for
example, “integral assistance” is part of the national policy against human trafficking informing
the Program for Rescue in 2008 (U.S. Department of State, 2017), whose core objective is to offer
psychological, social, medical and juridical assistance, from rescue to the witness statement
(Gatti, 2013). The French Organization International Organization Against Modern Slavery
(Organization Internationale Contre L’esclavage Modern/ OICEM) “offers legal assistance, psy-
chological support and socio-educational support to any person identified as a victim.” GLOWA,
in Cameroon, provides a program of support to victims of child slavery and trafficking through
access to funds, basic healthcare, counseling, paralegal support, and programs for the develop-
ment of marketable skills (e.g., mechanics and tailoring).
As suggested in Table 1, the vast majority of providers (88%) appeared to have integrated MSHT
survivors with other vulnerable groups. For example, the organization Medica Zenica in Bosnia and
continuously offers psychosocial and medical support to women and children victims of war and also post-war
violence, including victims of war rapes and other forms of war torture, sexual violence in general, domestic
violence survivors, as well as victims of trafficking in human beings.
While a rationale is not provided for assimilating these different groups, we also noted a lack of
availability of protocols for Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) and of an evidence base for working
with survivors. Results revealed that only the four NGOs in Category 1 have resources available
regarding research informing their interventions. Even basic descriptive statistical information about
the numbers of people accessing the organization was generally missing. An exception to this was the
Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center (CWCC) which states:
In 2016, 847 clients (567 survivors and 280 relatives) received services from the CWCC, from all four of our
locations; [. . .]. There were 342 domestic violence cases, 146 sexual abuse cases and 79 human trafficking of which
were 175 underage survivors.
In addition, the Rivers of Life Initiatives (ROLi) provide some information regarding methodology
and mechanisms of self-assessment:
a survivor driven methodology that offers a peer facilitated and adult supervised fun-filled self-assessments,
creative workshops and collaborative work integrated with elements of game playing in the context of risk
reduction [a scorecard-based game called The Young Key Population].
Figure 2. Synthesis of themes and sub-themes.
However, even in these two instances, the rationale for why particular groups and methods of
assessment have been selected is not explicitly addressed.
Geographic, socio-cultural variations were occasionally observed in the provision of mental health
support to survivors. This variability appears to reflect the presence of specific vulnerable groups in
some cultural contexts. For example, the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center (US) has
designed Nokomis Endaad (Grandmothers’ House, in Ojibwe):
A culturally based and trauma informed dual diagnosis treatment programme for American Indian women who
suffer from mental illness, sexual trauma and chemical addiction.
In Haiti, five out of six organizations were for restavek children exploited as domestic servants.
Nonetheless, besides these specific socio-cultural groups, when an organization was found to be
gender specific, this was often female orientated (see, Table 1), with an explicit focus on sexual
exploitation and violence in 33% of the cases, either within forced sex work or in the domestic
realm. One NGO included in this study declared to cater for the needs of LGBTQ+ groups (n = 1), its
main focus being HIV/AIDS and sex workers (i.e., PT Foundation in Malaysia).
Thirty-two percent of the included NGOs stated to operate across world areas or across countries
within the same geographical region. NGOs that provide services in one locale may also operate in
other national contexts, have their headquarters with several local partners/cells, or be part of
a network. For example, The Anonymous Ways Foundation (based in Hungary) offers: “full rehabi-
litation and reintegration to victims of human trafficking, mainly sexual exploitation and prostitution
including psychological assistance.The parent organization is the Canadian Servants Anonymous
Foundation, which “has been serving the victims of human trafficking and prostitution for 27 years.
Some provision is also characterized by religious missionary work (see, Table 1). Whilst some of the
religious organizations have underpinning philosophies that are based on the Christian faith, others
actively integrate components of worship into the support they offer. For instance, Ezekiel Rain – an
organization based in Thailand states:
Our model of aftercare places trafficking survivors in safe families rooted in Christ’s love and committed to prayer
and worship. We believe that the family is God’s vehicle for restoration and that national house parents (mothers
and father) are best positioned to connect with the hearts of the survivors in their care and provide them with
individualized care.
Finally, results revealed that the involvement of MSHT survivors in designing and delivering mental
healthcare is scant, as seven providers (2%) state to offer peer-support, peer-led groups, and/or
survivor-led services or assessment (i.e., King’s Daughter’s Organization in Namibia, Shared Hope
International in Canada, My Life My Choice in US, ROLI in the Philippines, Sanjog and IRCDS in
India, and ADPARE in Romania). In some cases, peer-led support is a stand-alone option, whereas for
other NGOs it is an adjunct to either individual or group therapy. For example, IRCDS offers both
group therapy and peer-led support designed to empower their female clients “in such a way that they
can address their life cycle themselves.
Types of Mental Health Support
As mentioned, mental healthcare is overwhelmingly offered within a package of services, which can be
described as a holistic service devoted to jointly cater for the psychological and social needs of MSHT
survivors. Connected to this broad model is the type of support referred to as psycho-social (offered by
32 NGOs). Trauma-informed is another specific type of support found – with all four NGOs in
Category 1, 33% (n = 27) of NGOs in Category 2, and eight providers in Category 3 offering it (N = 39).
Sixty-seven percent of the NGOs mentioning this approach are located in the Anglophone Western
world, especially North America, followed by Australia, and the UK. A third type of support identified
is that one based on artistic and bodily experiences/expressions. This was offered by 22 providers, both
as an adjunctive therapy and also within the integral model. While art-therapy was most commonly
observed (n = 14), dance and Dance Movement Therapy (DMT), gardening, yoga, mindfulness,
aromatherapy, and equine therapy were also found. For instance, SANAR Wellness Institute, in
partnership with Polaris, integrates trauma-focused CBT and EMDR strategies with restorative
yoga, expressive art therapy, mindfulness and sensory-based interventions (i.e. breathing techniques,
aromatherapy, and animal-assisted therapy).
Where this distinction was made available, group-based support (n = 22) appears to slightly
outnumber individual support (n = 17). A variety of descriptors (e.g., group counseling, psychother-
apeutic groups and group discussions) are available and no details are offered around how groups were
conducted, who facilitated them, or what structured therapeutic input was provided. Sharing some
features with this type of support, community-based approaches to intervention projects were also
found (n = 16), where the members of the group belong to the same, often rural, community.
Another distinction in the type of support available is between residential and outreach. The results
indicate that 39 NGOs offer accommodation to their clients, which are variously called shelters, safe
houses/homes, or residential services. The residential approach is consistent with the model of integral
care found in most providers. Congruent with this model are also two other types of services, life skills
training and economic empowerment, which are devoted to supporting the mental wellbeing of clients
in terms of fostering their self-esteem and emotional and financial independence, to better reintegrate
into society. These services – which include vocational training and job placement – are mentioned by
22 NGOs.
Within the realm of training, the provision of computer literacy and basic technological skills to
survivors has been identified (n = 3), as well as the use of digital programs for M&E purposes,
information collection and sharing, and victim case management and support (n = 2). A few (n = 3)
telephone and internet options for remote counseling and referral were found. In addition to crisis
intervention, this type of remote support aims to reach those who cannot travel to an organization’s
base, due to ongoing conditions of exploitation.
To the best of our knowledge, no research has sought to review third sector provision of post-MSHT
mental healthcare on a global scale. Despite capturing a short single point in time, our Internet-based
review of on-line sources returned a composite picture of this provision. Our findings reflect the
established complexity of MSHT aftercare (Zimmerman et al., 2006). In this complexity, specialist
mental healthcare support for survivors is scant, and both mental healthcare and survivors are blended
with other services and populations. Results suggest that different types of NGOs can provide
individual, group- or community-based support, informed by a range of different models – the
main ones being trauma-informed, psycho-social, and art therapy – with or without the accompani-
ment of a residential service. Whilst variety may not necessarily be problematic, this complexity may
mean that survivors cannot identify the most appropriate place to access mental healthcare; there may
be a lack of choice in a given locale regarding what type of support is offered; or conversely there may
be “black spots” where no provision is available at all.
Whilst studies focusing specifically on the mental health sequelae of MSHT have highlighted that
survivors may have a diverse array of problems (Hopper & Gonzalez, 2018; Mumey et al., 2020;
Ottisova et al., 2018), the unique nature of these are at risk of being lost as survivors of different types
of MSHT are often grouped with other vulnerable populations for the provision of services. Albeit
used in most observational studies in this field (Ottisova et al., 2016), there is a dearth of evidence both
against and in favor of this approach (Hemmings et al., 2016), which assumes that survivors share
common characteristics or experiences with others, such as refugees, asylum seekers, and those who
have experienced trauma and abuse. The lack of tailored assistance to specific survivors populations
has been observed (Hemmings et al., 2016; Ross et al., 2015), whilst support needs’ differences within
the MSHT population are being identified, for example, between labor and sex trafficking survivors
(Hopper & Gonzalez, 2018; Rose et al., 2020). This emerging evidence base raises the question of
whether services can assume that the commonalities between survivors of difference forms of MSHT,
and other groups, justify the continuation of generic mental health provision. Also outside the field of
health sciences, attempts to neatly separate experiences of MSHT survivors from those of vulnerable
migrants have been challenged (O’Connell Davidson, 2013). To start to address this issue, research is
advancing to understand which mental health interventions have efficacy, either for MSHT survivors
specifically (Wright et al., 2021; Oram et al., 2018) or for a mixed population (Powell et al., 2018). In
fact, even if some conceptual models were developed highlighting similarities in experience and need
between trafficked women, women experiencing sexual abuse and domestic violence, and migrant
women, for example, (Zimmerman et al., 2003), there is need for interventions, and dynamic and
flexible evaluations to take into account specific contexts, factors, and actors involved in post-
trafficking care (Kiss & Zimmerman, 2019). Beyond these observations, for frontline practitioners,
grouping MSHT survivors with others, who have experienced health and social vulnerabilities and/or
trauma, appears to represent a pragmatic decision-making process.
Further reflections can be formulated in relation to what is broadly referred to as trauma-informed
approach. This model is established in existing academic and practice scholarship which advocates
trauma-informed support in MSHT mental aftercare, often toward treating PTSD symptoms (Wright
et al., 2021; Dell et al., 2017; Hopper, 2017; Human Trafficking Foundation, 2018; Katona et al., 2015).
Findings of this scoping study suggest that frontline provision does not appear to be uniformly and
explicitly informed by this model, with 12% of the included NGOs mentioning it. Whilst there appears
to be a disjuncture between the emerging academic discourse, in particular that informed by
a biomedical model, and what is happening in practice, this needs to be investigated further. From
the information obtained, it is not clear whether this discrepancy relates to a genuine difference in
philosophy and therapeutic activity or to a difference in how academics and service providers label
what they do. NGOs are employing many different practices, often within a package of services. This
complex and varied reality does not match the relatively unanimous Western biomedical scholarly
knowledge base on what post-slavery mental healthcare should provide (Chisolm-Straker & Stoklosa,
2017). To fill this gap – which seems to be a “quality chasm” between what is known to be effective and
practices (IOM, 2001) more research integrating bio-psychiatric sciences, practitioners’ and users’
experience and perspective is needed (Lazzarino, 2020).
Similar observations could be drawn in relation to a further type of support identified: artistic and
bodily experiences/expressions. Provided within a framework emphasizing social, cultural, commu-
nity engagement and social prescribing, these methods are gaining momentum in mental health
(Fancourt et al., 2021), and their suitability to a survivor population is also promising (Kometiani &
Farmer, 2020; Namy et al., 2021). Whilst it could be argued that organizations could and should be
clearer on their websites about the theoretical underpinnings of their interventions and their M&E
processes, the purpose of having a presence on the Internet needs to be considered. For example, this
study has taken the stance that information on the Web is aimed at survivors seeking support.
However, NGOs may have a Web presence primarily aimed at seeking funding or attracting resources.
This would have an impact on the information made publicly available and the way an organization
presents itself (see also limitations below).
The language of integration is common within mental healthcare (Patel et al., 2013). This indicates
that any given organization may include, or integrate, mental health support within its provision.
However, it does not account for variation between organizations or contexts. The analysis presented
here, instead, suggests that post-slavery mental healthcare could be better conceptualized as belonging
within a nexus of care. Nexus of care does not constitute a new concept per se, it stands more for
a different way of looking at the integral/holistic model as formed of various connected elements (such
as medical care, financial support, and accommodation). These elements should be integrated in
attunement with specific contexts and users. Organizations may provide a range of services, but it is
not the case that each organization provides an exhaustive package of all services that a survivor may
require. Therefore, between different services, what mental healthcare is integrated with varies.
Similarly, providers of multiple services, under the auspices of one organization, may run the risk of
being a “one-stop-shop” (Barner et al., 2018; Hemmings et al., 2016). This picture indicates that there
is variety in support needs and services, and offers potential benefits in enabling survivors with
complex needs to access integrated care and multiple specialisms within a single setting. It does not
however allow for that variety, or the different services within it, to be understood any further.
Understanding integrated support which is the standard model recommended by the Protocol on
Trafficking in Persons (United Nations, 2000) – as being offered within a nexus allows for the
dissection of support. As a new lens, it paves the way for an approach that leads to improved
understanding of a context- and user-centered post-slavery mental health care on a global basis.
Co-production and user involvement are increasingly central to the design, delivery, and evaluation
of mental health services (Palmer et al., 2018; Puschner et al., 2019). By involving all relevant
stakeholders (including those with lived experience), it is assumed that services will be produced
which are fit for purpose and meet service users’ needs. MSHT survivors are increasingly attributed an
active role in their recovery and reintegration (Curran et al., 2017; Laurie et al., 2015), their voice as
activists and advocates is also growing, and their involvement in shaping the services that are provided
to support their recovery is recognized as crucial (Steiner et al., 2018). However, survivors’ involve-
ment is still largely lacking.
Our results indicate that some survivors’ voices appear less heard than others, notably those of men
and LGBTQ+ groups. In the wider literature, few attempts have been made to rectify the lack of
attention given to these groups who have experienced slavery and exploitation, including of a sexual
nature (Fehrenbacher et al., 2020; Martinez & Kelle, 2013; Pocock et al., 2016; Surtees, 2008).
Understandably, the hyper-visibility of specific groups (i.e., women and girls) may not fully reflect
the actual need for post-slavery mental health care. This results in a further implication of this study:
there is a need for both research and services to understand and meet the mental health needs of these
minority groups, according to their socio-cultural characteristics.
One-third of the included organizations operate across world areas or across countries within the
same region, and several more resulted to be based in a specific faith (e.g., Christianity). As mentioned,
the transnational nature of some provision can be understood in relation to religious missionary work.
While religion and spirituality have been shown to be beneficial in mental healthcare (AbdAleati et al.,
2016), it is the religious/spiritual inclination of beneficiaries that should be respected, not that of the
provider. Accordingly, mental healthcare should not be offered dependent on religious conversion or
worship; and a by-product of mental healthcare support should not be cultural conversion. Therefore,
attention must be paid to the cultural competence of the mental health service offered, in order to
mitigate the threat of a uniform transnational provision, modulated, for example, onto the Western
concept of trauma. Mental health support should instead be tailored to specific contexts and needs,
including spiritual needs. Research is starting to advance in this sense (Pocock et al., 2020), and better
evidence and practice appear urgent, in light of the multicultural nature of the MSHT victim/survivor
population, and the diverse cultural sensitivities around what constitutes mental health, or other
cultural barriers (Lazzarino, 2014; Fukushima et al., 2020).
This study aimed to answer relatively unexplored questions following a single point-in-time
Internet-based scoping review design. However, scoping reviews present several intrinsic limita-
tions, such as sizable number of included sources, multiple search strategies, and high risk of bias
(Sucharew & Macaluso, 2019). The research utilized the Internet as both a tool and object of
research enquiry. This presents additional limitations in terms of the nature and breadth of the
information obtained. Organizations with no presence on the Web, or in a language different from
those utilized in this review, could not be included. This may have impacted the representation of
some of the geographical regions (the Middle East and Russia, for example) in the dataset.
Organizational websites may not have accurately represented or provided information around the
mental health services available to survivors. For example, many websites, and in particular in very
low resource settings such as Africa, contained minimal information pertaining to their endeavors,
but it should not necessarily be concluded that their services were non-existent. In a review such as
this, it is difficult to discern the motivation behind the presentation of information on a website and
the intended audience. Many NGOs may choose to have a lower profile on the Internet to create an
environment that is accessible and safe to victims and survivors. The Internet may be a source of
information, but also a tool to take advantage of survivors’ vulnerabilities. NGOs have to be careful
of how they disseminate information regarding their mental health services in a manner that does
not contribute to re-victimization. Similarly, survivors may be wary of accessing on-line sources to
identify services, due to the role the Internet can play in leading vulnerable people into trafficking
situations. The limited information gathered around evidence informing practice and M&E does not
necessarily mean that this is not undertaken internally, or that the interventions provided by the
organization are not based on a robust evidence base from research literature or practitioner
training. Finally, despite our comprehensive multi-strategy search, the findings represent
a captured point of time analysis and due to the fleeting nature of the Web (Devan et al., 2019),
subject to change and updating.
This single point-in-time, Internet-based scoping study of third sector provision indicates that
globally a plethora of services are available to support survivors mental health. Service provision
operates within a nexus of care often for an array of different vulnerable populations. Study’s results
are limited in scope of influence due to the focus on Internet-based resources and should be taken
cautiously. For this reason, more empirical, multidisciplinary and multi-stakeholder research is
necessary to improve understanding and practices of the support offered, its evidence base and the
M&E processes. Further research lines should critically expand on mental healthcare provision in
light of MSHT as a global discourse, focusing on the economic and political structures informing
some of the key issues in MSHT critical studies that we have also identified in this study (e.g.,
trafficking-migration nexus; biomedicine v frontline practice and alternative medicines; Western-
and religion-informed model v local contexts and survivors’ plethora of voices; gender disparity in
provision; academic v practice divide). Embedding survivors voice within these processes is required
in order to develop culturally appropriate, gender-inclusive and survivor-centered mental health
support, policies and practice.
Author Contributions
Study design: NW and RL
Data collection and analysis: RL
Study supervision: NW and MJ
Manuscript writing: RL, NW and MJ
Critical revisions for important intellectual content: RL, NW and MJ
Disclosure Statement
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author(s).
This work was supported by the Rights Lab, a Beacon of Excellence of the University of Nottingham.
Data availability statement
The data that support the findings of this study were derived from resources available in the public domain and a full list
of them is available from the corresponding author, RL, upon reasonable request.
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... However, it is worth mentioning that the field-both of studies and interventions in trafficking aftercare-has not dramatically advanced, with ongoing work in the biomedical field only (Viergever et al. 2019) and no ethnography-based or interdisciplinary research. This affirmation is based on available evidence, recent research I co-conducted (Wright et al. 2020), and on ongoing informal contacts with my field sites. ...
... In such multidisciplinary efforts, critical anthropological ethnography helps to convey survivors' voices, better enabling the development of ethically, politically, and scientifically relevant interventions. As seen in trafficking aftercare, this means embedding survivors' life stories, and structural and cultural factors, into new biomedical screening and diagnostic tools-starting, crucially, by de-Westernising the discourse of victimhood and trauma (Lazzarino 2019;Jordan et al. 2020). In relation to post-trafficking interventions, ethnography can help to identify survivors' needs while remaining wary of the implications and effects of the international discourse of human trafficking and its categories of subjects (Lazzarino 2019(Lazzarino , 2015. ...
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In this Position Piece, I critically reflect upon some epistemological and political issues of interventions and intervention-oriented research in post-trafficking mental health care. I discuss three loci of friction within the framework of a critical global mental health approach to trafficking aftercare: ethnography, biomedical studies, and post-trafficking care. I address these loci through three case studies: two drawn from my own ethnographic fieldwork and one from a recent systematic review of biomedical studies on post-trafficking mental health. My discussion focuses on the limits of such activities when conducted as isolated interventions and highlights the need for radical interdisciplinary and participatory approaches.
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Background There is increasing cross-disciplinary research on the relationship between individuals’ social, cultural and community engagement (SCCE) and mental health. SCCE includes engagement in the arts, culture and heritage, libraries and literature, sports and nature activities, volunteering, and community groups. Research has demonstrated the effects of these activities both on the prevention and management of mental illness. However, it remains unclear whether current research is focusing on the research questions that are of most immediate urgency and relevance to policy and practice. Aims The current project was funded as part of the UK Research and Innovation cross-disciplinary mental health network programme to develop and co-produce a new cross-disciplinary research agenda on SCCE and mental health. Method Established processes and principles for developing health research agendas were followed, with a six-phase design including engagement with over 1000 key stakeholders, consultations, integration of findings and collective prioritisation of key questions. Results We identified four core themes: the mode of engagement, process of engagement, impact of engagement and infrastructure required to facilitate engagement. There were many points of agreement across all stakeholder groups on the priority questions within these themes, but also some specific questions of relevance to different sectors. Conclusions This agenda is particularly timely given the extreme pressure on mental health services predicted to follow the current COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to identify how resources from other sectors can be mobilised, and what research questions are going to be most important to fund to support SCCE for mental health.
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A number victims of trafficking are offered assistance and they decline. With no systematized knowledge on the subject, it has been difficult to understand the reasons behind these decisions to decline assistance, what happened to these women after and as a result of declining assistance, and what paths their lives took after dropping out of contact with the assistance system. Understanding the reasons, experiences and perceptions of person who do not participate in assistance program can play an important role in developing and tailoring anti-trafficking services to meet the needs and desires of as many trafficking victims as possible. This original research determined that reasons for declining assistance center around three main categories: 1) an individual’s personal circumstances at the time of decision-making, 2) factors associated with the specifics of the assistance system itself and 3) the social context.
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In this Position Piece, I critically reflect upon some epistemological and political issues of interventions and intervention-oriented research in post-trafficking mental health care. I discuss three loci of friction within the framework of a critical global mental health approach to trafficking aftercare: ethnography, biomedical studies, and post-trafficking care. I address these loci through three case studies: two drawn from my own ethnographic fieldwork and one from a recent systematic review of biomedical studies on post-trafficking mental health. My discussion focuses on the limits of such activities when conducted as isolated interventions and highlights the need for radical interdisciplinary and participatory approaches.
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Child trafficking is a form of modern slavery, a rapidly growing, mutating and multifaceted system of severe human exploitation, violence against children, child abuse and child rights violations. Modern slavery and human trafficking (MSHT) represents a major global public health concern with victims exposed to profound short-term and long-term physical, mental, psychological, developmental and even generational risks to health. Children with increased vulnerability to MSHT, victims (in active exploitation) and survivors (post-MSHT exploitation) are attending healthcare settings, presenting critical windows of opportunity for safeguarding and health intervention. Recognition of child modern slavery victims can be very challenging. Healthcare providers benefit from understanding the diversity of potential physical, mental, behavioural and developmental health presentations, and the complexity of children’s responses to threat, fear, manipulation, deception and abuse. Healthcare professionals are also encouraged to have influence, where possible, beyond the care of individual patients. Research, health insights, advocacy and promotion of MSHT survivor input enhances the collaborative development of evidence-based approaches to prevention, intervention and aftercare of affected children and families.
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Purpose The purpose of this study is to contribute to the social understanding of stigma as a societal and cultural barrier in the life of a survivor of human trafficking. The findings illustrate several ways where stigma is internal, interpersonal and societal and impacts survivors’ lives, including the care they receive. Design/methodology/approach This study used qualitative methods. Data collection occurred during 2018 with efforts such as an online survey (n = 45), focus groups (two focus groups of seven participants each) and phone interviews (n = 6). This study used thematic analysis of qualitative data. Findings The research team found that a multiplicity of stigma occurred for the survivors of human trafficking, where stigma occurred across three levels from micro to meso to macro contexts. Using interpretive analysis, the researchers conceptualized how stigma is not singular; rather, it comprises the following: bias in access to care; barriers of shaming, shunning and othering; misidentification and mislabeling; multiple levels of furthering how survivors are deeply misunderstood and a culture of mistrust. Research limitations/implications While this study was conducted in a single US city, it provides an opportunity to create dialogue and appeal for more research that will contend with a lens of seeing a multiplicity of stigma regardless of the political climate of the context. It was a challenge to recruit survivors to participate in the study. However, survivor voices are present in this study and the impetus of the study’s focus was informed by survivors themselves. Finally, this study is informed by the perspectives of researchers who are not survivors; moreover, collaborating with survivor researchers at the local level was impossible because there were no known survivor researchers available to the team. Practical implications There are clinical responses to the narratives of stigma that impact survivors’ lives, but anti-trafficking response must move beyond individualized expectations to include macro responses that diminish multiple stigmas. The multiplicity in stigmas has meant that, in practice, survivors are invisible at all levels of response from micro, meso to macro contexts. Therefore, this study offers recommendations for how anti-trafficking responders may move beyond a culture of stigma towards a response that addresses how stigma occurs in micro, meso and macro contexts. Social implications The social implications of examining stigma as a multiplicity is central to addressing how stigma continues to be an unresolved issue in anti-trafficking response. Advancing the dynamic needs of survivors both in policy and practice necessitates responding to the multiple and overlapping forms of stigma they face in enduring and exiting exploitative conditions, accessing services and integrating back into the community. Originality/value This study offers original analysis of how stigma manifested for the survivors of human trafficking. Building on this dynamic genealogy of scholarship on stigma, this study offers a theory to conceptualize how survivors of human trafficking experience stigma: a multiplicity of stigma. A multiplicity of stigma extends existing research on stigma and human trafficking as occurring across three levels from micro, meso to macro contexts and creating a system of oppression. Stigma cannot be reduced to a singular form; therefore, this study argues that survivors cannot be understood as experiencing a singular form of stigma.
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Background Cultural competency describes interventions that aim to improve accessibility and effectiveness of health services for people from ethnic minority backgrounds. Interventions include interpreter services, migrant peer educators and health worker training to provide culturally competent care. Very few studies have focussed on cultural competency for migrant service use in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC). Migrants and refugees in Thailand and Malaysia report difficulties in accessing health systems and discrimination by service providers. In this paper we describe stakeholder perceptions of migrants’ and health workers’ language and cultural competency, and how this affects migrant workers’ health, especially in Malaysia where an interpreter system has not yet been formalised. Method We conducted in-depth interviews with stakeholders in Malaysia (N = 44) and Thailand (N = 50), alongside policy document review in both countries. Data were analysed thematically. Results informed development of Systems Thinking diagrams hypothesizing potential intervention points to improve cultural competency, namely via addressing language barriers. Results Language ability was a core tenet of cultural competency as described by participants in both countries. Malay was perceived to be an easy language that migrants could learn quickly, with perceived proficiency differing by source country and length of stay in Malaysia. Language barriers were a source of frustration for both migrants and health workers, which compounded communication of complex conditions including mental health as well as obtaining informed consent from migrant patients. Health workers in Malaysia used strategies including google translate and hand gestures to communicate, while migrant patients were encouraged to bring friends to act as informal interpreters during consultations. Current health services are not migrant friendly, which deters use. Concerns around overuse of services by non-citizens among the domestic population may partly explain the lack of policy support for cultural competency in Malaysia. Service provision for migrants in Thailand was more culturally sensitive as formal interpreters, known as Migrant Health Workers (MHW), could be hired in public facilities, as well as Migrant Health Volunteers (MHV) who provide basic health education in communities. Conclusion Perceptions of overuse by migrants in a health system acts as a barrier against system or institutional level improvements for cultural competency, in an already stretched health system. At the micro-level, language interventions with migrant workers appear to be the most feasible leverage point but raises the question of who should bear responsibility for cost and provision—employers, the government, or migrants themselves.
Background: Modern slavery is a term which incorporates a range of exploitative situations that involve the violation of human rights and the subjugation of individuals. It presents a significant public health concern. Post-release, survivors of modern slavery have complex mental health needs. Whilst mental health provision is a component of international and national policy, the delivery of evidence-based support remains a gap in the global anti-slavery response. Aim: To identify and synthesise the evidence base for mental health interventions developed and evaluated for use in a post-slavery survivor population. Methods: A systematic literature review was undertaken. The review protocol was prospectively registered with PROSPERO and followed the PRISMA guidance in its reporting. A multi-stage search strategy was utilised to retrieve studies. Quality appraisal was undertaken using the QualSyst tool. Due to heterogeneity in study design, a narrative approach to synthesising the findings was undertaken. Results: Nine studies met the final inclusion criteria. The narrative synthesis clustered the studies in three themes: study design and population; type of intervention; and outcomes reported. The included studies focussed on specific subpopulations, namely child soldiering, child labour or sex trafficking. Conclusion: This review has highlighted not only important theory-practice gaps in relation to the provision of evidence-based mental health support but scant evidence limited to specific sub-groups (child soldiering, child labour or sex trafficking). The emphasis placed on PTSD within the interventions tested risks mental health support becoming exclusionary to those with other needs. When assessing intervention efficacy, the complex socio-political context in which survivors exist as well as the increasing emphasis on holistic care, personal recovery and lived experience need to be considered. Taking this into account, the case can be made for the inclusion of a wider range of non-clinical outcomes in the assessment of mental health intervention effectiveness.
Human trafficking violates fundamental rights and undermines lifelong well-being for survivors. There is an urgent need for evidence-based interventions for women and girls who have been trafficked, including those that can be implemented in low-resource settings. In this paper, we describe the purpose, structure, and preliminary results from a promising new approach, Healing and Resilience after Trauma (HaRT) Yoga, developed and piloted in Kampala, Uganda. HaRT Yoga is a twelve-week psycho-social intervention for women and girls who have experienced human trafficking. It aims to create a nurturing environment where participants can strengthen their inner resilience, build a supportive community, and overcome the psychological effects of trauma. The group-based programme involves weekly sessions that integrate yoga poses alongside breathwork, visualizations, mindfulness practices, and theme-based discussions. Overall results from an initial pilot (2017) were promising; participants experienced reductions in depression symptoms and improvements in self-rated emotional and physical health. Further, we found the programme was acceptable and feasible to implement in a shelter-based setting. Findings underscore the potential promise of this low cost, somatic approach to social work practice with trauma survivors, suggesting that a more rigorous evaluation of impact is warranted.