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Nonprofit helps Africans recover from post traumatic stress disorder
by Global Good News staff writer
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19 February 2014
In a recent webinar David Shapiro, founding president of a new nonprofit organization, African PTSD Relief, introduced a series of projects and research studies being conducted in Africa to promote and document the reduction of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) through the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique.
The result of many wars on the continent, it is estimated that 100 million Africans are suffering from the devastating effects of PTSD.
Treating this medical condition with Transcendental Meditation is proving to be highly effective, as shown by two recent studies published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress. Both studies—the first published in April 2013, the second in February 2014—involved Congolese refugees in Kampala, Uganda.
In the first study, researchers tested participants at the outset and after 30 and 135 days of practising Transcendental Meditation. Ninety-five per cent of the subjects experienced significant changes and were asymptomatic for PTSD symptoms after 30 days of TM practice; 100% showed significant changes at four months (135 days). The second study found similar results, and also found that much of the effect occurred within the first 10 days of TM practice.
These remarkable results in Uganda have become a call to action, Mr Shapiro said, for those seeking to alleviate the widespread suffering across the continent. African PTSD Relief acts as an advisor, providing materials and support to local administrators of the Transcendental Meditation programme who want to implement similar projects and research in their countries. Part of this is a comprehensive information package including details of research; a PowerPoint presentation about PTSD; a testing tool to determine PTSD levels in their area; and a tool to measure the reduction in symptoms as participants in the study learn and regularly practise Transcendental Meditation.
The PCL-C, the standard PTSD checklist for civilians, is a five-minute test that determines whether a person is at risk, or is already suffering from PTSD. Test results can quickly reveal the scope of the programme that needs to be organized.
The David Lynch Foundation website has dedicated a page to the African PTSD Relief initiative, outlining the extent of the problem, the research, and programmes. It also includes videos of refugees who participated in the first studies, describing the immense relief they have found from the horrors of war and severe PTSD, once they began practising Transcendental Meditation.
The board of directors and advisory board of the new organization are experienced in guiding large-scale projects introducing Transcendental Meditation to populations in different parts of the world, Mr Shapiro said, including in schools, the military, and prisons. Such institutions could provide an appropriate platform for PTSD relief projects in Africa, allowing large groups to practise Transcendental Meditation together daily. As a research project progresses, reductions in PTSD symptoms are also measured, giving the institution an ongoing report of their success.
A recently completed study at Maharishi Institute in South Africa shows results for a different community group—college-age students. As in the other studies, PTSD levels were tested before and after learning Transcendental Meditation. The results, soon to be published, show a similar rapid reduction in symptoms after 10 days, on a par with results found in other African communities.
Principal researchers in the studies include Col Brian Rees, MD, US Army Reserve Medical Corps, and Fred Travis, PhD, Director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management, USA.
See related articles:
∙ Researcher reports on recent studies: Transcendental Meditation reduces PTSD in African war refugees
∙ Leading neuroscientist explains how Transcendental Meditation changes the effects of PTSD in the brain
∙ Worldwide news media report effectiveness of Transcendental Meditation in reducing African war refugees' PTSD
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