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Open Access Commentary

Are school-based mental health interventions for war-affected children effective and harmless?

Verena Ertl* and Frank Neuner

Author Affiliations

Department of Psychology, Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Bielefeld University, Post BOX: 100131, 33501 Bielefeld, Germany

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BMC Medicine 2014, 12:84  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-12-84

Published: 21 May 2014

Abstract

In recent years, different approaches to large-scale mental health service provision for children in war-affected, mainly low- and middle-income, countries have been developed. Some school-based programs aiming at both strengthening resilience and reducing symptoms of trauma-related distress have been evaluated. In an article published in BMC Medicine, Tol and colleagues integrate their findings of the efficacy of universal school-based intervention across four countries and do not recommend classroom-based intervention as a treatment of trauma-related symptoms, since no consistent positive effects were found. On the contrary, for some children this type of universal intervention may impair recovery. Since universal school-based programs similar to the one evaluated here are widely implemented, Tol et al.’s results are highly relevant to inform the field of mental health service provision in war-affected countries.

Please see related article http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/12/56 webcite.

Keywords:
Trauma; Children; War; PTSD; Depression; Treatment; Prevention; Trial; Effectiveness