The suffering of children in areas of armed conflict is a growing cause for concern, as recent years have seen a rise in both the number of children living in war zones and the number of incidents of direct violence against children. Encountering adversity in any form during childhood plays a significant role in increasing the risk for mental health problems later in life. Several studies have been dedicated to describing the effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACE) on both mental and physical health across one's lifespan. These traumatic experiences, and others, can be intensified to a much larger magnitude in areas of conflict. This rapid systematic review aims to determine the key interventions used in areas of conflict across the world for the purpose of improving the mental health of children living within these areas. This broad approach will account for the distinct types of interventions, the overlap between the purposes of the researchers, and the results of the interventions themselves, along with a myriad of supportive information reached through fieldwork and clinical observation. A systematic protocol was used to consult two online databases, PubMed and Scopus, for primary studies published in English examining mental health interventions introduced within areas of conflict and instability. Seven studies were identified to meet the inclusion criteria, all of which were conducted in several countries where conflict and war have been a reality for years before and during the times of the interventions. All of the studies used evidence-based treatments for trauma that have had success outside of conflict areas, some of which have been specifically tailored for performance among large groups of people with minimal resources. The studies reviewed displayed a level of potential for successful interventions that can be implemented within these same conflict zones effectively, especially for the treatment of symptoms of depression. The review highlights a need for active efforts towards relieving the vulnerable children within these areas from the long-lasting burdens of trauma and the possibilities for resilience and sustenance within areas lacking resources and stability.
Shamieh, MPH(c), Yazeed; Leader, DrPH, MPH, Amy; and Frasso, PhD, CPH, Rosemary, "Confronting consistent trauma: Improving children's mental health in areas of conflict" (2020). Master of Public Health Capstone Presentations. Presentation 348.