Six continents in six weeks

Ella Rhodes reports.

A Professor of Child Mental Health has visited six continents in six weeks as part of a project to establish a model of helping children who have suffered trauma and adversity. Panos Vostanis (University of Leicester) has worked with NGOs, orphanages and other specialist centres developing a standardised approach which can be used with children who may have limited, or no, access to specialist trauma services.

This new model has six levels; safety and child protection, nurturing environments, building resilience through schools and communities, applying principles of therapeutic approaches in schools and other group settings, trauma-focused interventions adapted for children and the use of limited mental health resources. During his tour of Greece, Turkey, Indonesia, Australia, the USA, Brazil, Kenya and Tanzania, Vostanis explained the model to NGOs and others who work with children who have experienced adversity and trauma

It is only in relatively recent times, Vostanis said, that research has revealed that children can recall traumatic events. He added: ‘The differences between children and adults in processing trauma are developmental; the main difference is to work with children you have to work through adults, which includes the parents and other caregivers and professionals and communities.’

Vostanis, who has spent the majority of his career working as a child psychiatrist, said in every centre he visited psychologists were the largest group represented. He added: ‘It's not easy to contribute to these kinds of situations but psychologists have a role in applying their interventions to more difficult environments and contexts.’

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