Current Projects

A 15-year study of former child soldiers and other youth affected by war began in 2002. This longitudinal analysis demonstrated that poor mental health in former child soldiers resulted from both war-related trauma and post-conflict experiences such as stigma, social support, and access to school. It found that stressors such as childhood exposure to war/armed conflict are not deterministic and documented the need for greater attention to the post-conflict environment and the nature of family, peer, and community relationships that surround young people who have lived through war-related trauma. We are currently in the fourth phase of this project which includes data collection with the index sample and their intimate partners/children. This early research was critical to our subsequent work in Sierra Leone to develop and test the Youth Readiness Intervention (YRI).

Past Projects

Despite operating in a state of emergency, we were able deploy our well-trained local team to conduct research among a cross-sectional representative sample of adults at the height of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) epidemic (2014-2015) in order to examine how mental health and past trauma contributed to uptake of public health messages and participation in both risky and health promoting behavior among a community sample. Our findings indicate that effects of war-related trauma on both EVD risk and EVD prevention behaviors are mediated through two key mental health variables: depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms.