Building the Barricades: An interdisciplinary Study on Mental and Substance Use Disorders in the Context of Armed Violence in Brazil

Duration: 09/18 – 03/21

In the Complex of Maré, an assortment of 16 peripheral communities on the margins of Rio de Janeiro, residents must contend with the daily reality of violence at the hands not only of local criminal gangs, but also the militarized response of Brazilian security forces in the ‘war on drugs’. Combined with the fact these communities are subject to multiple stress factors, including entrenched poverty and social exclusion, many residents face significant challenges to their mental health and wellbeing as a result.

Building the Barricades: An interdisciplinary study on Mental and Substance Use Disorders in the Context of Armed Violence in Brazil seeks to explore the intersection of insecurity and the drug trade on the urban periphery of Rio de Janeiro, in the absence of a well developed system of government support. Through detailed fieldwork with drug users, local residents and other groups, the projects seeks to develop a better understanding of the issues these communities face and the informal structures of support developed by cultural and civil society organizations, volunteers and other groups.

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Paul Heritage (Principal Investigator, Professor of Drama and Performance)
Marcelo Santos Cruz (Doctor and Psychiatrist)
Miriam Krenzinger (Professor and Researcher)
Stefan Priebe (Professor of Social and Community Psychiatry)
Leandro Valiati (Professor of Creative Industries and Economics of Culture)
Eliana Sousa Silva (Director)
Luiz Eduardo Soares (Anthropologist)

• A survey for both 200 crack users, evaluating their awareness of mental health support services, and for 1,200 local residents.
• Semi –structured interviews with community respondents including those experiencing mental health or substance abuse issues.
• Arts-based approaches to engage target groups to produce stories and images to counter stigma around mental health, culminating in a life stories and photography exhibition.