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Addressing the mental health impact of modern slavery is essential to halt cycles of violence, exploitation and abuse.

Photo: Atul Loke/Legatum Limited 2015

New report highlights mental trauma caused by modern slavery

20 October 2015

A new report released today calls for a major increase in research and funding to treat the mental trauma suffered by survivors of modern slavery.  

Addressing Mental Health Needs in Survivors of Modern Slavery, commissioned by The Freedom Fund and conducted by the Helen Bamber Foundation, found that survivors of forced labour, sex trafficking, and other forms of slavery frequently suffer from severe mental health problems including post-traumatic stress disorder. But there has been very limited research on which treatments are effective.

addressing the mental health needs of survivors is critical to halting generational cycles of violence and exploitation

Providing integrated care that prioritises treatment for mental trauma alongside other protection services for survivors can enable survivors to recover from the experience of slavery and to increase their capacity to protect themselves from further harm.

Nick Grono, CEO of The Freedom Fund, said: "The Freedom Fund is focused on ensuring we are supporting the best possible interventions to liberate people from slavery – and keep them free.  We know that addressing the mental health needs of survivors is critical to halting generational cycles of violence and exploitation. This report highlights the need for much more research on which mental health treatments are most effective.”

Professor Cornelius Katona, Medical Director at the Helen Bamber Foundation and one of the authors of the report, said: "The continued existence of slavery in modern life affects us all. Slavery ruthlessly breaks the bonds of healthy human relationships. We hope this initial report represents the first stage in a collaborative, international project to develop effective models of therapeutic care for all people who have suffered slavery, wherever they are located in the world." 

The Freedom Fund is a new philanthropic initiative designed to bring financial resources and strategic focus to the fight against modern slavery. It aims to raise $100 million by 2020 for smart anti-slavery investments in the countries and sectors where it is most needed.

The Helen Bamber Foundation is a human rights charity based in London which was founded by Helen Bamber in 2005. It provides therapeutic care, medical consultation, legal protection and practical support to survivors of human rights violations.

Download the report