Psychology Seminar: Çiğdem Yumbul (Özyeğin University)




Life in Soma, Turkey, After the Mining Massacre of 2014: An Autoethonographic Account of Mental Health Relief Efforts to Affected Families






25 MARCH 2019 10:30-12:00



Soma Mining Massacre cost the lives of 301 mine workers, left 487 miners injured and thousands of family and friends with the tremendous sudden loss of their loved ones and feelings of deep grief, sorrow, guilt, anger, pain and helplessness. Immediately after the Massacre, the APHB (The Union for Psychosocial Services in Disasters), an organization consisting of six Turkish NGO’s working in the field of mental health and trauma, arrived in Soma. The mental health care providers from APHB contacted victims’ families and the surviving mine workers and their families to provide psychological first aid and acute trauma and loss interventions as well as to help with crises management operations. After the initial assessment, the scope of affected people was determined as 11,000. Shortly after, APHB launched the Soma Solidarity Network (SOMADA) project and established two Psychosocial Support Centers (PSC) in Soma and Dursunbey districts to provide organized free mental health care for those affected by the Soma Mining Massacre. I lived and worked in Soma and Dursunbey for 11 months as the project coordinator of the SOMADA. This study is an autoethnographic composition of my transformative experience as a woman and mental health worker after 11 months living and working in a trauma field. This document is also an account of my observations of the affected families and miners’ transformation throughout the period of two years following the massacre. Another major aim of this document is to establish a historical record that provides a template and guideline for future trauma work, particularly related to mining and field disasters and document successes and challenges along with recommendations for future trauma teams. I utilize postmodern, feminist, critical and ecological lenses to construct a critical autoethnography as my methodological approach to analyze my experiences. The personal journals I kept during and after my time in Soma and Dursunbey, newspaper interviews I had given over the course of two years, and reflections of that time are used as the main sources of data to contextualize my reflections for this autoethnographic study.