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      Reflections on “Building Back Better” Child and Adolescent Mental Health Care in a Low-Resource Postemergency Setting: The Case of Sierra Leone

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          Abstract

          Over the past three decades, Sierra Leone has experienced two major humanitarian crises: an armed conflict (1991–2002) and an Ebola virus disease outbreak (2014–2015). In addition to these country-wide crises, the capital Freetown experienced a mudslide affecting thousands of people in 2017. In response to these emergencies, donors and aid organizations showed an increased interest in supporting and implementing mental health and psychosocial support interventions. Despite these efforts, the mental health infrastructure of the country remains frail. Specifically, systemic improvements in the implementation of evidence-based mental health care for children and adolescents appear to be lacking. In this article, the Interactive Systems Framework for Dissemination and Implementation is used as a tool to analyze issues related to the development of a sustainable, contextually relevant child and adolescent mental health-care delivery system. The author draws on her long-term experience as a child mental health specialist in Sierra Leone. Observations and hypotheses are tested and supplemented by formal and informal reports and national and international literature. The three systems described by the Interactive Systems Framework are explored in the context of Sierra Leone: (1) Synthesis and Translation, (2) Support, and (3) Delivery. Interaction between the three Systems is discussed as critical to the successful dissemination and implementation of interventions. Ample attention is given to contextual factors that are believed to be paramount to the development of child and adolescent mental health care in Sierra Leone. The article concludes with a reflection on the usefulness of the Interactive Systems Framework in the dissemination and implementation of child and adolescent mental health-care interventions in low-resource, postemergency settings. It is suggested that, in addition to funding and policies, the child and adolescent mental health system in Sierra Leone could benefit from the development of contextually relevant interventions, improvement of capacity-building efforts, and acknowledgment of the role of community-based practitioners in the delivery of services. Local mental health experts, especially those trained in child and adolescent mental health, should be empowered to work together with culturally competent expatriate professionals to improve child and adolescent mental health care in Sierra Leone.

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          Most cited references 67

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          Poverty and common mental disorders in low and middle income countries: A systematic review.

          In spite of high levels of poverty in low and middle income countries (LMIC), and the high burden posed by common mental disorders (CMD), it is only in the last two decades that research has emerged that empirically addresses the relationship between poverty and CMD in these countries. We conducted a systematic review of the epidemiological literature in LMIC, with the aim of examining this relationship. Of 115 studies that were reviewed, most reported positive associations between a range of poverty indicators and CMD. In community-based studies, 73% and 79% of studies reported positive associations between a variety of poverty measures and CMD, 19% and 15% reported null associations and 8% and 6% reported negative associations, using bivariate and multivariate analyses respectively. However, closer examination of specific poverty dimensions revealed a complex picture, in which there was substantial variation between these dimensions. While variables such as education, food insecurity, housing, social class, socio-economic status and financial stress exhibit a relatively consistent and strong association with CMD, others such as income, employment and particularly consumption are more equivocal. There are several measurement and population factors that may explain variation in the strength of the relationship between poverty and CMD. By presenting a systematic review of the literature, this paper attempts to shift the debate from questions about whether poverty is associated with CMD in LMIC, to questions about which particular dimensions of poverty carry the strongest (or weakest) association. The relatively consistent association between CMD and a variety of poverty dimensions in LMIC serves to strengthen the case for the inclusion of mental health on the agenda of development agencies and in international targets such as the millenium development goals. Copyright 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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            Bridging the gap between prevention research and practice: the interactive systems framework for dissemination and implementation.

            If we keep on doing what we have been doing, we are going to keep on getting what we have been getting. Concerns about the gap between science and practice are longstanding. There is a need for new approaches to supplement the existing approaches of research to practice models and the evolving community-centered models for bridging this gap. In this article, we present the Interactive Systems Framework for Dissemination and Implementation (ISF) that uses aspects of research to practice models and of community-centered models. The framework presents three systems: the Prevention Synthesis and Translation System (which distills information about innovations and translates it into user-friendly formats); the Prevention Support System (which provides training, technical assistance or other support to users in the field); and the Prevention Delivery System (which implements innovations in the world of practice). The framework is intended to be used by different types of stakeholders (e.g., funders, practitioners, researchers) who can use it to see prevention not only through the lens of their own needs and perspectives, but also as a way to better understand the needs of other stakeholders and systems. It provides a heuristic for understanding the needs, barriers, and resources of the different systems, as well as a structure for summarizing existing research and for illuminating priority areas for new research and action.
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              The mental health of children affected by armed conflict: protective processes and pathways to resilience.

              This paper examines the concept of resilience in the context of children affected by armed conflict. Resilience has been frequently viewed as a unique quality of certain 'invulnerable' children. In contrast, this paper argues that a number of protective processes contribute to resilient mental health outcomes in children when considered through the lens of the child's social ecology. While available research has made important contributions to understanding risk factors for negative mental health consequences of war-related violence and loss, the focus on trauma alone has resulted in inadequate attention to factors associated with resilient mental health outcomes. This paper presents key studies in the literature that address the interplay between risk and protective processes in the mental health of war-affected children from an ecological, developmental perspective. It suggests that further research on war-affected children should pay particular attention to coping and meaning making at the individual level; the role of attachment relationships, caregiver health, resources and connection in the family, and social support available in peer and extended social networks. Cultural and community influences such as attitudes towards mental health and healing as well as the meaning given to the experience of war itself are also important aspects of the larger social ecology.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                URI : https://loop.frontiersin.org/people/656132
                Journal
                Front Psychiatry
                Front Psychiatry
                Front. Psychiatry
                Frontiers in Psychiatry
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                1664-0640
                31 October 2019
                2019
                : 10
                Affiliations
                [1]Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR), University of Amsterdam , Amsterdam, Netherlands
                Author notes

                Edited by: Manasi Kumar, University of Nairobi, Kenya

                Reviewed by: Mahshid Taj, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Iran; Theresa P. Castillo, HealthRight International, United States

                *Correspondence: Hélène N.C. Yoder – van den Brink, heleen.yoder@ 123456gmail.com

                This article was submitted to Public Mental Health, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry

                Article
                10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00758
                6834689
                b46fd544-7cc5-42f0-88fd-e99489a63ab8
                Copyright © 2019 Yoder - van den Brink

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 111, Pages: 15, Words: 8532
                Funding
                Funded by: Universiteit van Amsterdam 10.13039/501100001827
                Categories
                Psychiatry
                Policy and Practice Reviews

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