The Health sector plays an important role in the prevention of violent extremism. The key challenge for this sector is to interpret signs of radicalisation and help those individuals who might be at risk of being radicalised.
The RAN Mental Health Working Group focuses on raising awareness within the health sector and helping establish an effective network of health practitioners across Member States. The group also promotes partnerships between frontline agencies in the Member States.
In recent years, practitioners working in the field of preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) have pointed to a potential link between mental health disorders on one side, and radicalisation on the other. Practitioners need to examine mental health disorders in a nuanced and specific way and identify functional links between specific aspects of the mental health disorder and specific ways that this contributed to their patients’ pathways to extremism.
We can observe a greater prevalence of mental health disorders amongst terrorists due to on-line entry, mass recruitment tactics and higher exposure to threats, grievances and propaganda. There is a sense of urgency to do more to prevent vulnerable individuals with mental health disorders from joining terrorist groups or committing terrorist acts in the name of a terrorist organisation.
Meet Johan, our case study.
Radicalisation makes victims of the most vulnerable, and there are few more vulnerable than young children. Those with limited parental guidance, suffering from discrimination or exclusion, with mental health issues – sometimes linked to trauma – or victims of abuse are the most vulnerable of all.
Children taken to Syria or Iraq by their parents and now returning to Europe, and non-European children forcibly displaced by Daesh and arriving in Europe, are likely to have many of these problems. They may have also witnessed atrocities, lost family, perhaps seen their parents imprisoned, and gone through the trauma of resettlement. Building up their resilience gives these children a chance.
RAN brought together policy-makers and practitioners in Warsaw on 4 July 2018 to find solutions to these challenges.
When tackling radicalisation and extremism, first-line practitioners sometimes need to have very difficult conversations.
What should you say when meeting a new patient suspected of having extreme views? What should you not say? Which conversation techniques may help? What do practitioners from the RAN network recommend?
Alfredo Calcedo is a psychiatrist at the Spanish Hospital Gregorio Marañón.
Alfredo took part in the Policy & Practice meeting “A mental health approach to understanding and preventing violent extremism”.
Noemi Bertinotti is a volunteer at Psicologi per i Popoli Federazione in Italy.
Noemi took part in the meeting “Taking mental health issues into account in CVE and PVE”.
Kinga Bialek is a cross-cultural Psychologist at Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research Poland (SIETAR), Poland.
Learn how she tackles radicalisation in her work.
Following RAN activities and Working Group meetings, an ex-post paper highlights lessons learned, insights and follow-up initiatives.
- RAN HEALTH Violent individuals with personalised ideologies and mental health issues, Rome 26-27 September 2022
- RAN HEALTH Personality disorders and mental illnesses with implications in preventing violent extremism, Helsinki 20-21 July 2022
- RAN HEALTH Training for Mental Health Practitioners in P/CVE, online meeting 04-05 November 2021 (also available in French and German)
- RAN HEALTH Mental health practices and interventions in P/CVE, online meeting 22-23 September 2021
- RAN activities on Mental Health, May 2021 (also available in French and German)
- RAN Small-scale meeting New offender types & appropriate measures of Exit work, online meeting 24 March 2021 (also available in French and German)
- Ethical Guidelines for Working on P/CVE in Mental Health Care, 2021
- RAN HEALTH Rehabilitation and reintegration of extremist offenders from a mental health perspective, online meeting 10-11 March 2021 (also available in French and German)
- RAN event P/CVE and mental health support online, online meeting 18-19 November 2020 (also available in French and German)
- RAN event Mental Health in prison, online meeting 23-24 September 2020 (also available in French and German)
- RAN HEALTH Conclusions Ethics for mental health professionals working in P/CVE, online meeting 16-17 June 2020 (also available in French and German)
- RAN H&SC-POL Conclusion Help the Helper ‒ Safeguarding the well-being of mental health and social care practitioners, online meeting 25-26 March 2020 (also available in French and German)
- RAN H&SC Handbook Extremism, Radicalisation & Mental Health: handbook for practitioners, November 2019
- RAN H&SC Alienation, Identity and Intercultural working, Helsinki 23-24 October 2019 (also available in French and German)
- RAN Policy & Practice A mental health approach to understanding violent extremism, Paris 03 June 2019 (also available in French and German)
- RAN LOCAL and RAN H&SC Taking mental health insights into account in local P/CVE, Paris 29 May 2019 (also available in French and German)
- RAN H&SC – Grooming for terror – Manipulation and control 25 April 2019 (also available in French and German)
- Multi-Agency Working and preventing violent extremism: Paper II, April 2019 (also available in French and German)
- RAN H&SC Understanding the mental health disorders pathway leading to violent extremism, Turin 13 March 2019 (also available in French and German)
- RAN HSC Methods of evidence-based approaches, Amsterdam 21 December 2018 (also available in French and German)
- RAN H&SC & RAN EXIT Multi-problem target group : the influence of mental health disorders and substance abuse on Exit work, Vienna 07 November 2018 (also available in French and German)
- RAN Policy & Practice Event, Building resilience among young children raised in extremist environments – specifically child returnees, Warsaw 04 July 2018
- RAN H&SC Embedding social and health care workers into institutional structures, Munich 06-07 June 2018 (also available in French and German)
- Multi-agency working and preventing violent extremism: Paper I, April 2018 (also available in French and German)
- RAN H&SC PTSD, trauma, stress and the risk of (re)turning to violence, Lisbon 10-11 April 2018
- RAN H&SC Risk assessment of lone actors, Mechelen 11-12 December 2017 (also available in French and German)
- RAN H&SC meeting on Multi- or cross-cultural approaches to preventing polarisation and radicalisation, Dublin 04-05 July 2017
- RAN YF&C and RAN H&SC Working with families and safeguarding children from radicalisation, Nice 02-03 February 2017 (also available in: Albanian | Macedonian | Serbian.)
- RAN H&SC Meeting on children and youth, The effects of violent extremism on children, Hamburg 14-15 September 2016
- RAN H&SC Handbook on How to set up a multi-agency structure that includes the health and social care sectors? Copenhagen, 18-19 May 2016
- RAN H&SC Identifying and treating lone actors, Zagreb 27-28 January 2016