American University of Beirut

Collaborative study to provide Family Focused Psychosocial Support for at-risk adolescents in Lebanon

​​​​​In 2020, Dr. Tania Bosqui, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology at the American University of Beirut, alongside Dr. Felicity Brown, Senior Researcher at War Child Holland, received an AHRC-DFID Collaborative Humanitarian Protection Research Programme grant on the effectiveness, mechanisms of change, and acceptability of Family Focused Psychosocial Support for at-risk adolescents in Lebanon.

This study involves a research team that includes Maliki Ghossainy, Anas Mayya, Larine Fahed, Sally Farah, Estefania Hanna, Nour Bazzi and Zahraa Shaito from the American University of Beirut, Theresa Betancourt from the Boston College School of Social Work, Michael Donnelly from Queen’s University Belfast, Alan Carr from the University College Dublin as well as Bassel Meksassi, Joseph Elias, and Mark Jordans from War Child Holland. The project also receives technical support from UNICEF Lebanon, Terre des Hommes Italia, Danish Refugee Council, War Child Holland, Global Health Institute, National Mental Health Program, and Community Advisory Boards.​​

​​The aim of this study is to develop and test a family systemic intervention that can be delivered alongside the existing UNICEF Lebanon's Focused-Psychosocial Support program for at-risk adolescents in Lebanon. There is a small yet growing evidence base for psychosocial interventions in conflict and humanitarian emergencies; however, adolescent mental health is often under-researched and drastically under-resourced. Families play a critical role in ensuring adolescent mental health and protection outcomes, yet there has been limited research evaluating family interventions in these settings.

​​Nurturing family environments are essential for healthy child development, and parenting and systemic family interventions show strong effectiveness. Through the development and evaluation of an adjunctive Family Systemic Intervention Module, named the Sawa Aqwa (Stronger Together) Family Program, the research team will enhance current humanitarian programming by addressing the child's ecology, while also addressing a significant weakness of the current evidence base for at-risk adolescents and their families in conflict-affected contexts. The program aims to be systemic, culturally and contextually relevant, and sustainable. Findings will be disseminated to the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) and NGOs implementing Psychosocial Support in Lebanon. The participatory, hybrid effectiveness-implementation design will ensure that the intervention is optimally contextualized, and suited for wide-scale implementation.

The planned impact of the study is to give over 300 at-risk adolescents and their caregivers Family Focused Psychosocial Support. In addition to active engagement of implementing organizations, Dr. Bosqui’s team aims to engage with the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) for a long-term impact on psychosocial support provision as part of the National Mental Health Programme. Beyond improving public mental health policy on a local scale, wider regional and international dissemination is aimed to be reached through published and unpublished reports, workshops or conferences, and through the open access online platform informing a wide range of regional and international organizations.​​

More information on this project is available on the UK Research and Innovation website, on the AUB Department of Psychology website and the AUB Global Health Institute website​, and in this short video

“The effectiveness, mechanisms of change, and acceptability of Family Focused Psychosocial Support for at-risk adolescents in Lebanon” is a two-year AHRC-FDCO funded research project that is planned to conclude in May 2022.

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