A newly developed community-based psychosocial and mental health care package for children affected by armed conflict has made effective care accessible to over 96,000 children, according to international researchers reporting in this week’s PLOS Medicine. Their article is part of the journal’s ongoing series on Global Mental Health Practice.
The authors led by Mark Jordans from HealthNet TPO and the Centre for Global Mental Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine explain that the Program (called the Child Thematic Program) started in Burundi, Sudan, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia in 2004 and in Nepal in 2006. From the start, the care package was based on a public health model to include prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation interventions.
The article describes the way research contributed to the development of the care package. According to the authors, routine monitoring and evaluation combined with rigorous research design allowed for improvement and fine-tuning of services in real-life settings, and highlighted key gaps in current knowledge.
The authors say: “The program has resulted in improved case detection with a developed and validated screening instrument, making care accessible to over 96,000 children, and generating empirical evidence on the effectiveness of interventions.”
They continue; “Future development requires broadening the scope of the care package, that is, integration of treatment for severe mental disorders, stronger involvement of families, and strengthening of primary prevention approaches, and continued evaluation of new elements.
The authors conclude: “While we promote the current emphasis on accountability and the need to demonstrate the effect of interventions in humanitarian settings, we advocate a broader research agenda that also focuses on care/ health system variables, as well as implementation and intervention mechanisms.”
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