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Guided Parenting Can Sort Mental Health Challenges Among Refugee Children- Study

Commissioned two and a half years ago by researchers at the Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (TPO) Uganda and Washington University, the study involved 1200 refugees in the Kiryandongo refugee settlement. Participants were divided into two groups comprising 600 individuals each.

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Refugee children whose parents employ proper parenting skills are in a better mental state compared to their counterparts irrespective of the difficulty associated with displacement, a new study has revealed.

Commissioned two and a half years ago by researchers at the Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (TPO) Uganda and Washington University, the study involved 1200 refugees in Kiryandongo refugee settlement. Participants were divided into two groups comprising 600 individuals each.  

The researchers assessed how parents punished the children whenever they committed a mistake and the warmth and affection generally expressed to them by the caregivers. They also assessed the levels of mental distress and the kind of social support residents get while in the settlements.  

Self-harm, drug abuse, and attempted suicide are some of the biggest challenges refugee children face. However, Flora Cohen, the Principal investigator of the study, says that they found that children whose parents were trained on proper parenting using a tool dubbed “Journey of Life” were three times in better mental health state than those that never been trained.  

Journey of Life, according to Gary Agaba, who coordinated the study, is designed to raise awareness of the problems and needs of children and provide guidelines on how the community can find solutions. He says for the study, they took parents through 12 sessions of training that involved issues to do with improving livelihoods, problem-solving and parenting skills among others.

//Cue in: “Journey of Life ………….        

Cue out: ………… be that frustration,”//

While the final assessment after the training showed great improvements in children's welfare, Agaba says violence against children in the refugee settlement was still high and when this was put to Sylvia Pimei, an official from the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development she acknowledged that their data points to the same. 

She, however, said that the ministry has developed parenting guidelines, which if followed can help reverse such problems. On his part, Patrick Sambaga, the TPO country director called for increased and continuous investment into psychosocial support pointing out that currently most of the psychiatric care is given by NGOs and once they pull out, some beneficiaries tend to relapse.  

//Cue in:” The other finding …………         

Cue out: ………….. to stay well,”//  

At the height of the pandemic, for instance, suicidal cases among children increased in Kiryandongo settlement, which accommodates up to 76000 refugees. Currently, David Deng, a refugee from South Sudan and leader in the settlement, says their biggest problem is the drug and subsistence abuse since some of the children have been out of school for a long because of the COVID-19 lockdown.  

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