Providing Psychosocial Support to Displaced Communities in South Sudan: Nyaluak’s Story - GOAL Global Skip to content

Providing Psychosocial Support to Displaced Communities in South Sudan: Nyaluak’s Story


November 24, 2023 • 2 min read

Nyaluak is from a small village in Abyei Administrative Area, South Sudan. In South Sudan, mass displacement is becoming increasingly more common as the ever-intensifying effects of climate change continue to lead to intense resource competition among pastoral communities. The scarcity of resources often culminates in inter-communal conflict that forces families to flee their homes.

Displacement traumatising communities

When conflict broke out between her village and a neighbouring community in Twic, Nyaluak was forced to leave her home and flee with her children to another community in the northwest of Abyei. When displaced populations arrive in their host communities, often presenting with many and complex medical needs, local health facilities can become overwhelmed. But thanks to funding from the EU, GOAL has supported the operationalisation of ten primary healthcare facilities in Twic County to facilitate the provision of healthcare services to host and IDP communities.

One component of GOAL’s response is supporting local healthcare facilities in integrating mental health and psychosocial support into their existing services, with funding from the EU. The services being promoted include individual, family, and group counselling sessions, and peer support groups. When Nyaluak presented at the local health facility after being displaced, she was struggling with severe mood swings, fatigue, disorientation, difficulty engaging with others, and an inability to cope with day-to-day problems and stress. GOAL staff took note of Nyaluak’s condition and offered her support, ultimately referring her to a psychologist at a nearby hospital.

Breaking the stigma

Many communities in South Sudan face significant challenges when attempting to access healthcare, as the provision of health services has been repeatedly disrupted by many years of conflict and civil unrest. South Sudan’s health system lacks the resources to effectively mitigate the psychological impacts of humanitarian disasters and mass displacement, in addition to tackling the cultural stigma surrounding mental health. GOAL staff transported Nyaluak to the hospital in a referral vehicle, as none of her family members felt comfortable accompanying her.

GOAL, with funding from the EU, is training community mobilisers to raise awareness of mental health issues and the psychosocial support services being offered by the health facilities GOAL supports. This mass community awareness raising is being carried out using television and radio talk show segments in the local language. Nyaluak was discharged from the hospital once her disorientation began to abate, and she was able to speak with good reasoning. She thanked GOAL and the EU for raising awareness of mental health issues in the community and for providing psychosocial support to those in need. She hopes to have the opportunity to share the positive impact that counselling has had on her with her community. “Traditional belief and perception are hurting most of the people who are affected in our country,” Nyaluak added.