A relevant and timely event in light of these exceptional times of change and challenges in Egypt, stressing the importance of the psychological aspects of trauma and covering the social, psychological and conceptual stresses confronting the country’s youth in the present day.
In his presentation “Beyond PTSD - Helping Children Affected by War and Disaster” Professor Bill Yule, ACAMH Keynote Speaker, provided a valuable review of a number of group interventions, particularly two developed by the Children and War Foundation. He presented the philosophy and rationale of these manuals, illustrating their cultural adaptability and usefulness in a number of different cultures, such as Greece, Iran, Iraq, Thailand, Kenya and Palestine. Additional resources were considered - Teaching Recovery Techniques and Writing for Recovery - as well as other approaches and techniques, notably EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and Kid-NET (Narrative Exposure Therapy for Children). His presentation closed with brief demonstration on outcomes from randomized controlled trials.
Dr Patrick Smith, ACAMH Guest Speaker, stressed that recent large-scale epidemiological surveys confirmed that PTSD occurs in a minority of children and young people who are exposed to trauma. In his talk “Advances in Evidence Based Treatment for PTSD in Children and Young People” he showed how models of PTSD specify which factors are relevant in the maintenance of persistent PTSD. Empirical findings from recent prospective follow-up studies of trauma-exposed young people have highlighted the importance of cognitive, memory, and social factors in chronic PTSD, in line with predictions from cognitive theory, such findings being highly informative in developing effective treatments for young people with PTSD.
Prof Azza El Bakry, Head of Child Unit, Psychiatry Department, Cairo University, presented The Need to Treat Children/Youth Victims of Trauma where she high lighted the need of C&A mental health professionals to have a comprehensive trauma-focused approach that integrates clinical knowledge, thinking and interventions. Discussing the role of psychological and pharmacological interventions in managing PTSD and beyond in young sufferers.
Both presenters also delivered a separate seminar on Teaching Recovery Techniques, which introduced a group-based protocol devised by the Children and War Foundation, aimed at teaching evidence-based coping techniques to children and young people experiencing traumatic stress reactions.
Dr Abdel Aziz Thabet from Gaza Strip Palestine presented his study “Coping with Trauma in Palestinian Children in the Gaza Strip”, illustrating that one year after the Gaza war Palestinian children were still reporting many traumatic events - 56.6% of children experienced mild trauma (0-5 events), 32.9% moderate trauma (6-10) and 10.6% severe trauma level. Reactions were predominately depression, anxiety, PTSD and fears, although children tried to overcome these by adopting a variety of coping strategies such as spending time with family, grown-ups and friends, or trying to sort out the problem by doing something or talking to someone about it.
In her presentation on “Complicated Bereavement Associated with Traumatic Nature of Loss and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder” Dr Samaa El Abd, Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, highlighted that complicated bereavement in adults and children can be strongly related to the traumatic nature of loss and can impair the normal grieving process, resulting in psychopathology. Identification of the risk factors and traumatic manifestations were key, together with implementation of therapeutic interventions and effective monitoring of outcomes.
Dr Dalia Enaba, Lecturer in Psychiatry, Cairo University, presented the results of the study “Psychiatric Symptoms reported by Primary School Children Around Tahrir Area, subjected to The Traumatic Events of 25 January Revolution”. The objectives of the study were firstly to identify the effect of repeated traumatic events on children whose schools were situated in the heart of a series of traumatic events and secondly, to show if patterns of responses differ according to sex and socioeconomic status. Results showed that girls had higher rates of almost all symptoms of depression, PTSD anxiety and aggression compared to boysand that lower social class children (those of governmental and experimental schools) had higher rates of depression, PTSD, anxiety and aggression than those of the higher social class (private language school). Children who viewed their lives as worse after the revolution (62% of 506 respondents) reported higher rates of all the symptoms of depression, PTSD, anxiety and aggression.
The comprehensive material provided during the conference and master class increased professionals’ confidence to diagnose and deal with PTSD. Based on the knowledge acquired and the skills gained a team is being created to support survivors of the accident and help the parents and teachers at school in Assuit.
The visit of UK experts sponsored by ACAMH has brought a valuable international perspective, a diversified wealth of clinical and evidence based information and clear markers for their application in day-to-day practice. This has resulted in accumulated benefits for professionals in the field of child and adolescent mental health in Egypt, predominately by updating their knowledge and offering a channel for continuous professional development.
With the country’s current exceptional changes, the relevance of the event’s theme of Trauma in Children and Young People cannot be sufficiently emphasized. The attendance by two eminent experts in the field was greatly appreciated.