Our employment service supported a Harvard Chan School project examining the long-term effects of children's war experiences on their mental health as adults and the designing and scaling of collaborative approaches to mental health interventions.

Understanding Mechanisms of Violence and Scaling-Up Mental Health Interventions

In a first-of-its-kind study in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Department of Global Health and Population's Research Program on Children and Global Adversity investigated how previous war experiences affected parent-child health in a low-resource setting. Led by Theresa Betancourt, associate professor of child health and human rights, the team focused on understanding trajectories of risk and resilience in children facing multiple forms of adversity. Their 14-year longitudinal study in Sierra Leone examined the mechanisms by which adult functioning, mental health, parenting practices, intimate partner relationships, and the health and development of offspring were influenced by the legacy of war.

The program's research was critical in developing and testing intervention models and policy initiatives, including the Youth Readiness Intervention (YRI) and Youth FORWARD. The YRI model focused on protective factors that influence better life outcomes (e.g. social support, staying in school, and securing a livelihood) and it integrated six cognitive behavioral therapy-based practice elements to address disorders ranging from depression to PTSD. Working with a network of global partners, the Youth FORWARD initiative established an implementation science hub in West Africa to accelerate the scaling-up of innovative and sustainable evidence-based mental health interventions for youth exposed to violence; to improve capacity building in mental health services research on children, youth, and families facing adversity; and to conduct implementation science on the delivery of evidence-based mental health services through a range of delivery systems and settings, including youth employment programs.

The program's findings in Sierra Leone helped identify potential intervention points to improve family and child health in diverse groups, including refugee populations.

Harvard Global Services in Sierra Leone

Harvard Chan School utilized our employment service to support the program's in-country researchers. We were able to provide employment for the federally-funded work in Sierra Leone via a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Sierra Leone.