Radcliffe Institute Fellow Published Study in The Lancet that Draws Attention to Mental Health of Refugee Children

@ the Institute
August 10, 2011
By Karla Strobel

Lynne Jones, a child psychiatrist and humanitarian relief worker, came to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study as a fellow in 2010–2011 to write a memoir about her decades of work traveling to conflict-affected areas around the world to help address and understand children's mental-health needs.

The fellowship also gave her time to contribute to an academic study of the mental health of displaced children. This study, completed with coauthors Ruth V. Reed, Mina Fazel, Catherine Panter-Brick, and Alan Stein, has been published in today's The Lancet. It is about the risks and protective factors that affect the mental health of displaced and refugee children in low-, middle- and high-income countries.

"My fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute was integral to starting work on my memoir and helped me contribute to this review. I found that the academic and creative writing complemented each other. The theoretical points that we made in the article are completely endorsed by my own personal experience working as a child psychiatrist running mental-health programs in humanitarian settings. The fellowship allowed me to take time outside the field to fully participate in finalizing and preparing the review for publication."

The findings of the review highlight the urgent need to fund interventions to tackle the significant unmet mental health needs of some of the world's most vulnerable children.

"What makes this study significant is that it draws attention to the needs of refugee children in low- and middle-income countries," says Jones, a 2010–2011 Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study fellow. "There are around 18 million displaced children in the world and the majority of them live in impoverished refugee camps in sub-saharan Africa. Until now, their mental-health needs have received very little attention. That has to change."

Jones draws on her diaries, correspondence, and memories of working in the Balkans, East Africa, Indonesia, and the Middle East in her memoir. According to Jones, her year working on the memoir at the Radcliffe Institute "was one of the best years of my life. For a person like me—a full-time humanitarian aid worker—to be able to spend a year thinking, reading, and writing is an enormous privilege."

This July, Jones joined Harvard University's François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights as a visiting scientist. Jones has an MA in human sciences from the University of Oxford. She qualified in medicine before specializing in psychiatry and has a PhD in social psychology and political science. In 2001, she was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for her work in child psychiatry in conflict-affected areas of Central Europe. 

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