LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A generation of Syrian children are facing “catastrophic” psychological damage with one in four inside Syria at risk of developing a mental health disorder from witnessing traumatic events, a global children’s charity said on Tuesday.


The psychological needs of children fleeing four-and-a-half years of war remain largely unmet due to lack of funding, spiraling numbers of refugees and over-stretched resources in host countries, Save the Children said in a report.


“The repercussions for the future mental health of an entire generation could be catastrophic,” Ian Rodgers, country director for Save the Children in Lebanon, said in a statement.

 “In addition to the obvious psychological damage caused by witnessing traumatic events and extreme violence, there are a myriad of secondary, under-funded and often over-looked, daily causes of psychological and social damage once a displaced child arrives in a new community.”


Some 10 percent of children participating in Save the Children programmes in the Iraqi Kurdistan region had lost at least one parent, while in Lebanon a “considerable portion” have been out of school for at least three years, the charity said.


“For children … being out of school for months or years, dealing with the acute tension and anxiety at home, as well as separation from friends and relatives, daily discrimination, child labour, early marriage, and living in insecure, poor parts of cities or towns, has a serious and profound impact on their mental and physical health,” Rodgers said.


Normal routines, such as being able to go to school and seeing their parents carrying out regular household duties, are crucial for children, Rodgers said.


Among teenagers acute stress is leading to suicidal thoughts and self-harm, with a few suicides documented in some locations, said Save the Children.


Other widely reported issues include speech disorders, problems with hearing or vision, and bed wetting, the charity said.


“Leaving children untreated has a negative impact later on – they can become aggressive, depressed, and acquire phobias,” Reem Nasri, Save the Children psychologist said.


Syria’s war, which erupted in 2011, has killed some 250,000 people and created more than four million refugees.

The world in denial? Global mental health matters

A Royal Society of Medicine Conference

Tuesday - Wednesday  26 - 27 March 2013

Venue: Royal Society Of Medicine, 1 Wimpole Street, LONDON, W1G 0AE

This event makes the case for increasing the profile and funding of mental health globally and discusses the challenges and opportunities for this. The evidence to support this is extensive and compelling, so why do political leaders and policy makers fail to act? Simply put, the World is in denial and this event is a reality check.

The meeting is organised in association with the Royal College of Psychiatrists. The program and registration fee information is available at

* Understand the global prevalence of mental health problems and its percentage of the total health burden in lower-income countries.
* Learn about the impact of untreated mental illness on morbidity and mortality in lower income countries.
* Examine the impact of untreated mental illness on the course and prognosis of physical illnesses.
* Understand the socio-economic cost of untreated mental illness.
* Explore the reasons why mental health is neglected in terms of specialists and treatment despite being a major disease area.
* Consider the challenges to global mental health arising from conflict including the impact on UK Society.
* Discuss what is being done to tackle the global mental health burden and what more needs to be done.

Who should attend:
Anyone working within the field of Global Mental Health or with an interest in this area.

Call for abstracts for posters
There will be a session at which participants can present their work and ideas in the form of a poster
Submission deadline for abstracts: Thursday 28 February 2013
The organising committee welcomes abstracts for posters for presentation on any topics of interest in the field of Global Health. Abstracts for posters should relate to original unpublished work.
These should be no more than 500 words in length. Abstracts should be sent to and should be clearly marked 'Global health - abstract submission'. Please ensure that the author's postal address, telephone and fax numbers are included in this message as well as an email address for correspondence.