- Publication date
- 30 November 2021
- Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs
Recent years have seen a growing focus on the intersection between mental health and the field of preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE). In the past, researchers tended toward the view that it was people with mental health illnesses or psychopathic tendencies who committed extremist acts. Scholars later eschewed these explanations in favour of the theory that radicalised individuals were rational actors in pursuit of specific objectives. Now, overwhelmingly, the current literature recognises that the pathways to radicalisation are complex, multifaceted and interconnected, and that there is no ‘single pathway’ to radicalisation.
This recognition of the diverse ways of becoming radicalised has developed alongside a growing understanding that P/CVE calls for multi-agency, multidisciplinary, coordinated prevention strategies. In recent years, this has been reflected in the practice, research and work of several RAN working groups that have progressively explored the complex overlapping and interconnecting role of mental health in P/CVE3.
In this context, mental health professionals have increasingly become involved in the design and implementation of deradicalisation programmes throughout Europe. Today, they are providing essential psychological support, risk assessments, and detection of early warning signals in the prevention process. It may therefore be useful to reconsider the role of psychotherapists and mental health professionals as running in parallel to deradicalisation, exit and rehabilitation work and to give them a more prominent role within a holistic rehabilitation approach.