The Syrian crisis has brought to the forefront the enormous challenges that families face in the context of war and displacement. To date, over 7 million people are internally displaced; at least half of those internally and externally displaced are children (UNHCR, 2013). Studies suggest that the mental health of Syrians that have been displaced indicate rising levels of psychological distress, this is in the context of minimal mental health and psychosocial support services for internally displaced people and refugees in difficult to access areas (Abou-Saleh & Hughes, 2015). In immediate humanitarian crises, the focus is on
shelter, food and essential medical care. However, loss and adversity, disruption and adaptation to new environments pose additional significant risks to mental health (Drury & Williams, 2012). Building resilience and optimising mental health is fundamental to longer term adjustment, and reducing emotional suffering and promoting mental health is therefore a major global health challenge (UNICEF, 2004; Patel et al. 2007, 2008). Systematic reviews show that the key protective factors for refugee children include settling in a stable context with social support, parental support and family cohesion, perceived support from friends and good experiences in school (Fazel et al. 2012). A review of
preventive interventions for children exposed to armed conflict, including refugees, noted the paucity of high-quality research on interventions in these contexts and the need for ‘psychological first aid’ to be embedded into programmes in primary health and education (Peltonen & Punamäki, 2010). The scale of the Syrian crisis makes plain the impossibility of providing individual interventions for all families at risk of mental health difficulties. Given the scale of the problem, one priority for delivery of psychosocial interventions in this context is to identify ways of providing information at the population level as part of a public health model (Mollica et al. 2004) and evaluating these.

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