Abstract

On-going political crises around the world have created a sense of urgency among the international community about the need to provide psychosocial support to displaced children. But are we prepared to undertake this work? This paper examines the usefulness of available information, professional literature, and training models for the actualities of providing mental health care to children displaced by political conflict or civil war. It uses the author's field experience and research in Southeast Asia, Central America, and southern Africa as a basis for examining the efficacy of several interrelated issues: What are the different kinds of events that make war and political conflict a uniquely stressful experience for children? What has been learned about children's responses to this range of stressful and traumatic events? What are the implications of the above findings for mental health initiatives involving war and refugee populations? What are some of the wider political, social, and cultural issues confronted when attempting to implement psychosocial support programs for displaced populations?