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Mental health services for war-affected children: Report of a survey in Kosovo

  • Lynne Jones (a1), Alban Rrustemi (a2), Mimoza Shahini (a3) and Aferdita Uka (a3)

Abstract

Background

In war-affected societies it is assumed that the major mental health problem facing the population will be stress reactions.

Aims

To describe the creation of a child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) in Kosovo after the military conflict ended in 1999, and to establish the range of problems and diagnoses that presented.

Method

Data were collected on 559 patients over 2 years, including their referring problems and diagnoses.

Results

Stress-related disorders constituted only a fifth of the case-load in year 1. A substantial number of patients were symptom-free but attended because they had been exposed to atraumatic event, and believed it might make them ill. Non-organic enuresis and learning disability were the most common diagnoses in year 2. Many patients had a complex mix of social and psychological difficulties that did not fit conventional diagnostic categories.

Conclusions

Mental health services that only address traumatic stress may fail to meet the needs of war-affected children. A comprehensive, culturally appropriate CAMHS is needed to address a wide range of problems including learning disability. It should be developed through local actors, and build on existing local infrastructure. Services can also have an educational role in ‘depathologising’ normative responses.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Lynne Jones, Centre for Family Research, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RF, UK

Footnotes

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Declaration of interest

None. Funding details in Acknowledgements.

Footnotes

References

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Mental health services for war-affected children: Report of a survey in Kosovo

  • Lynne Jones (a1), Alban Rrustemi (a2), Mimoza Shahini (a3) and Aferdita Uka (a3)
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