199281 War, trauma, and adolescent mental health in northern Uganda

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 12:30 PM

Jeremy C. Kane, MPH , Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Harrisburg, PA
Rob Stephenson, MSc PhD , Hubert Department of Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Ann DiGirolamo, PhD, MPH , Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Civil war has displaced an estimated 1.5 million people in northern Uganda, 80% of whom are women and children. The United Nations has reported widespread atrocities and regards the situation as a humanitarian emergency. An in-depth study was conducted in Gulu, Uganda to determine how traumas experienced by adolescents during the war have affected their mental health. We recruited and interviewed 47 participants from three local schools to assess both type and number of traumatic events experienced and current mental health functioning. Preliminary results indicate high incidence of trauma, particularly sexual abuse, as well as high rates of mental health morbidities, especially general anxiety disorder. However, we also found considerable levels of post-traumatic growth and evidence of resiliency among some of the most traumatized adolescents. Further analysis of these positive deviants- those who have displayed positive emotional growth in the face of such horrors- will be valuable in developing psychosocial support programs for war-affected youth.

Learning Objectives:
Describe the number and types of traumas experienced by adolescents in northern Uganda. Analyze the relationships between trauma and the mental health of adolescents. Identify coping strategies and other important factors contributing to resiliency and post-traumatic growth among adolescents.

Keywords: Mental Health, War

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a co-author on the paper.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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