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Large and Diverse Study Associates Early Intervention with Improvement in Children after Mass Trauma


While psychosocial interventions to promote resilience and prevent mental health concerns in children after a disaster are used in humanitarian responses around the world, data supporting these interventions has been lacking. The recent study “Trauma Functioning and Well-Being in Children Who Receive Mental Health Aid after Natural Disaster or War” published in the journal Children evaluates the effectiveness of the early psychosocial intervention, OperationSAFE.

Games - 05

Data from 158 OperationSAFE camps involving 16,758 children in ten humanitarian crises in five nations over a period of five years was analyzed showing an improvement in trauma-related functioning/well-being scores with large effect sizes. The study found that the improvement of symptoms was similar for boys and girls and slightly greater with increased age, that time between a disaster and the start of the camp did not reduce the effectiveness of the camp, and that children who had experienced man-made disasters such as wars benefitted more from the intervention.


Leveraging the model of vacation bible schools, a common faith-based community activity, local community leaders and volunteers are trained to deliver the intervention, where” But it is not just the content that helps children recover from mass trauma. "For many of the children, adults around them have been serious, fearful, and anxious. From the opening event, children see from the actions and expressions of the adults that they can play, laugh, and enjoy themselves, i.e., they are safe.” OperationSAFE camps are currently being mobilized in response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis in Poland, Romania, and Ukraine.

Indonesia Story


Images (3)
  • Tibet Games: Tibetan earthquake survivors enjoy games at OperationSAFE.
  • Philippines Craft: Filipino typhoon survivors make their own bears.
  • Indonesia Story: Indonesian tsunami survivors listen to the 'Pete's Adventure Story'

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Thank you for the feedback. I am doing my dissertation with the same data now looking at ways to identify which children in the camps most need further mental health care. The link should work now.

Thank you for the quick response, @Jonathan Wilson

Good article and it makes sense. Sadly, the link in the article does not work for me. However, I found another link to the study -

Thank you for the feedback. I am doing my dissertation with the same data now looking at ways to identify which children in the camps most need further mental health care. The link should work now.

The health of all children needs to be of real importance to us all — and not just concern over what other parents’ children might or will cost us as future criminals or costly cases of government care, etcetera — regardless of how well our own developing children are doing.

And as a moral rule, a physically and mentally sound future should be every child’s fundamental right — along with air, water, food and shelter — especially considering the very troubled world into which they never asked to enter.

Thank you for posting, Jonathan!

Increasing positive childhood experiences (PCEs) makes the difference.  Thanks for evidence, support, sharing here, our connection, and most of all, your work with the children.

Onward and upward!


Last edited by Carey Sipp
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