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Dr. Ani Kalayjian Guides KIU Students on Post-Trauma Healing


On June 24, 2024, Dr. Ani Kalayjian, founder of the Association for Trauma Outreach and Prevention (ATOP) MeaningfulWorld, led a humanitarian post-trauma healing workshop at Kampala International University (KIU). The workshop aimed to teach students how to manage trauma using the seven-step Biopsychosocial & Eco-Spiritual Model, which addresses various aspects of trauma, distress, disputes, conflicts, and disagreements.

Additionally, the workshop sought to empower students by educating them on the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr. Ani emphasized the importance of having trustworthy friends and encouraged students to learn and share lessons from difficult situations. She introduced the seven-step Biopsychosocial & Eco-Spiritual Model, which includes:

  1. Assessing levels of distress, disagreement, or conflict
  2. Encouraging the expression of feelings
  3. Providing empathy and validation
  4. Promoting the discovery and expression of meaning
  5. Offering information
  6. Instilling a connection with Mother Earth
  7. Demonstrating breathing, movement-centered healing, and meditation

According to Dr. Ani, ATOP MeaningfulWorld is committed to creating a meaningful, peaceful, and just world where every individual enjoys physical, emotional, mental, social, financial, ecological, and spiritual well-being.

She adds that this sense of meaning, peace, and justice, though unique to each person, is achieved through a transformative journey that combines knowledge and experience with responsibility, reflection, and service.

“This transformative process is also achieved by fostering healthy relationships that nurture open, honest, and transparent communication, insight into forgiveness, love and spiritual connection, and active collaborations and service,” she explained.

Dr. Faith Nakalema, a counseling psychologist and lecturer at KIU, emphasized that mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorders, and addictions are common among university students, which she says are often triggered by academic stress, family dynamics, and work-life balance difficulties, and they require urgent attention.

"When students become overwhelmed with emotions, they may develop suicidal thoughts. Preventive measures are crucial in mental health because they are both possible and cost-effective, whereas treatment can be very expensive," Dr. Nakalema explains.

She further highlighted that mental health issues lack visible symptoms like fevers or skin rashes, making it essential to empower students with health talks to help them recognize the signs of mental health challenges. Participants also learnt about the impact of the environment on their well-being and how they, in turn, affect the environment.

 At the end of the workshop, Dr. Ani Kalayjian donated books to the students and the university library to further their understanding of trauma management.