The war in Syria has had a devastating impact on children, including over two million Syrian refugee children living neighboring countries—almost a third of whom are under the age of five. Children living in regions experiencing armed conflicts or living as refugees experience what is known as “toxic stress” or chronic trauma. As the world continues to debate how best to respond to the global refugee crisis, it is critical to include efforts that address the mental health and developmental needs of children and their families. Left unaddressed, mental health and developmental concerns create an increased likelihood of impaired educational performance and ongoing health and mental health conditions later in life.
Although there are some initiatives providing psychosocial support to Syrian refugee children, there is little evidence to indicate that children with disabilities are being identified or served. Panelists will synthesize information on the developmental and mental health concerns of young children impacted by the Syrian conflict, identify gaps, and set the stage for future work in this area.