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AUK Holds a Talk on Responding to the Needs of Children and Adolescents Affected by Conflict and Displacement

The Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the American University of Kuwait (AUK) values civic engagement and service to the community and believes it is important to help raise awareness about how best to intervene and support the mental health of people affected by conflict, especially in this region. This month, the department organized a lecture entitled, Responding to the Needs of Children and Adolescents Affected by Conflict and Displacement. Dr. Inka Weissbecker and Dr. Mohamed Elshazly, representatives from the International Medical Corp. (IMC), were invited to speak to a crowd of more than 100 attendees from the public about the psychosocial issues faced by children being raised in such conditions and what steps are being taken to help them.

Dr. Weissbecker is the Global Mental Health and Psychosocial Advisor for IMC. She began the lecture by talking about how IMC has a presence in 31 countries around the world that are considered conflict zones or areas struck by natural disasters. She explained that her role as a psychologist is to design and implement community-based mental psychosocial programs, highlighting that due to the limited human resources available, it is important to work closely with the social workers of those communities to help develop these programs to best serve the community.

Dr. Elshazly is a Psychiatrist Trainer for IMC. He spoke about his role as a psychiatrist in working with refugees, and those displaced by conflict, to identify what factors to consider when designing and implementing holistic psychosocial programs in conflict zones.

"We were fortunate to be able to host two mental health providers from IMC, a well-established nonprofit organization that responds to humanitarian disasters, who spoke about their experiences developing programs to address the psychosocial needs of individuals who have been affected by war," explained Dr. Nicholas Scull, Assistant Dean of the College of Arts & Science at AUK. "The fact that nearly 100 people attended the event suggests that there is a lot of local interest in addressing the mental health consequences of conflict," he said.

Inka Weissbecker, Ph.D., MPH, has completed field assignments in South Sudan, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Libya, Jordan, Lebanon, Gaza, Turkey, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Japan. She has been a contributor to several global IASC and WHO guidelines and working groups. She has also served as an NGO representative of the International Union of Psychological Science to the United Nations (ECOSOC and DPI). Her academic credentials include a PhD in Clinical Psychology specializing in health and public sector psychology from the University of Louisville and University of South Florida as well as an MPH in Global Health and Population Studies from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Dr. Mohamed Elshazly, MBBCh, MSc Neuropsychiatry, ABPsych, has more than a decade of experience in clinical mental health services, training and MHPSS services in emergencies, and worked with many INGOs in Cairo implementing such services for African, Syrian and Iraqi refugees. His academic credentials include a Master degree in Neuropsychiatry from Ain Shams University and Arab Board of Psychiatry from Arab Council of Medical Specialization. Dr. Elshazly is currently the Regional Host for the Middle East and North Africa at the mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) global coordination network (www.mhpss.net).

Dr. Inka Weissbecker

Dr. Mohamed Elshazly

Dr. James Rose, Chair of SBSA Department

Group photo (from left): Dr. James Rose, Dr. Inka Weissbecker, Dr. Ons Al-Khadra, Dr. Mohamed Elshazly, and Dr. Nicholas Scull



Released by the Office of Public Affairs on the 26th November 2014

Photography by the Office of Public Affairs (C) 2014

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