An immense gap exists between the serious mental health risks faced by refugee and war-affected children and our knowledge of what leads to resilient mental health outcomes in these populations. Even though children as a group are often underserved by systems of mental health care, refugee children represent a particularly complex and vulnerable service population due to histories of trauma, low service utilization and limited availability of culturally-appropriate mental health services. The applicant's long-term research goal is to develop expertise in multicultural mental health services research for refugee children and adolescents. The purpose of this Career Development Award (K01) is to lay the groundwork for future independent research by building skills in cross-cultural assessment of mental health constructs, identifying services needs and preferences in diverse cultural groups, and understanding the risk and protective processes that contribute to resilient outcomes in multicultural populations. The research and training plan is organized according to a model that addresses: 1) identifying and defining locally-important mental health problems to target in assessment and screening;2) identifying services needs and preferences and understanding how culturally-relevant protective processes function to improve mental health outcomes in different cultural groups;3) translating knowledge on protective processes to develop or adapt community-based mental health services that target culturally-relevant modifiable protective processes as "active ingredients". Three studies are proposed to complement this model. Studies 1 &2 use quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate local conceptualizations of mental health problems and protective processes that will inform assessment and mental health services development in two different refugee/displaced populations (one war-affected adolescents in northern Uganda, the other resettled Somali Bantu child and adolescent refugees in the U.S.). Study 3 entails secondary analysis of protective processes to prioritize in intervention development for disadvantaged ethnic minority youth and will build models to replicate in future multicultural mental health services research on refugees. Drawing from the skills, preliminary data and pilot measures developed during the award period, the applicant plans to develop an R01 proposal to develop and test community-based mental health services for refugee youth resettled in the U.S.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research & Training (K01)
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Application #
Study Section
Mental Health Services in Non-Specialty Settings (SRNS)
Program Officer
Hill, Lauren D
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Harvard University
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
United States
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Betancourt, Theresa S; Abdi, Saida; Ito, Brandon S et al. (2015) We left one war and came to another: resource loss, acculturative stress, and caregiver-child relationships in Somali refugee families. Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol 21:114-25
Betancourt, Theresa S; Yang, Frances; Bolton, Paul et al. (2014) Developing an African youth psychosocial assessment: an application of item response theory. Int J Methods Psychiatr Res 23:142-60
Betancourt, Theresa S; McBain, Ryan; Newnham, Elizabeth A et al. (2014) Context matters: community characteristics and mental health among war-affected youth in Sierra Leone. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 55:217-26
Betancourt, Theresa S; Borisova, Ivelina; Williams, Timothy P et al. (2013) Psychosocial adjustment and mental health in former child soldiers--systematic review of the literature and recommendations for future research. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 54:17-36
Betancourt, Theresa S; McBain, Ryan; Newnham, Elizabeth A et al. (2013) Trajectories of internalizing problems in war-affected Sierra Leonean youth: examining conflict and postconflict factors. Child Dev 84:455-70
Betancourt, Theresa S; Meyers-Ohki, Sarah E; Charrow, Alexandra et al. (2013) Annual Research Review: Mental health and resilience in HIV/AIDS-affected children-- a review of the literature and recommendations for future research. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 54:423-44
Kelly, J T; Betancourt, T S; Mukwege, D et al. (2011) Experiences of female survivors of sexual violence in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo: a mixed-methods study. Confl Health 5:25
Betancourt, Theresa S; Borisova, Ivelina I; de la Soudiere, Marie et al. (2011) Sierra Leone's child soldiers: war exposures and mental health problems by gender. J Adolesc Health 49:21-8
Betancourt, Theresa Stichick; Meyers-Ohki, Sarah; Stulac, Sara N et al. (2011) Nothing can defeat combined hands (Abashize hamwe ntakibananira): protective processes and resilience in Rwandan children and families affected by HIV/AIDS. Soc Sci Med 73:693-701
Betancourt, Theresa S; Rubin-Smith, Julia E; Beardslee, William R et al. (2011) Understanding locally, culturally, and contextually relevant mental health problems among Rwandan children and adolescents affected by HIV/AIDS. AIDS Care 23:401-12

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