Strengthening family systems
“The family system - or how individual family members relate to each other and how they handle outside stressors - impacts powerfully on children and adults. Our goal is to develop a programme that strengthens these systems, thus improving the mental health and wellbeing of the whole family unit.”
Dr. Felicity Brown, Senior Researcher
- In humanitarian crises, family caregivers face complex stressors such as poverty, mental illness and increased violence in the community and at home.
- This often results in an inability to provide responsive and effective parenting, bearing heavily on children's mental health and wellbeing.
- Programmes working at the individual, child or parent level - while important - fail to address these complex family challenges.
Estimated per cent of people in low and middle income countries who do not have access to high quality mental health care. (source)
Through joint sessions with a trained non-specialist facilitator, the intervention sees family members develop problem-solving and conflict-management skills, learn how to regulate their emotions and support one another.
Nurturing Families considers the impact of both the broader family and the context in which they live. We take a whole-family approach to promote a shared understanding of individual challenges, strengths and goals.
- First, we engage with local community advisors
- Next, we study families’ challenges and needs and which interventions they prefer
- Then, we test our approach with a small number of families in selected countries
We are currently piloting the programme in conflict-affected communities in the Al Hashmi area of Amman in Jordan.
We are also conducting a randomized controlled trial of our core-family focused module with partners in north Beqaa and the Tripoli region in Lebanon.
For more insight into the methods we will use to conduct the RCT in Lebanon, read this paper.
At the moment, we are conducting research among conflict-affected communities across Lebanon and Jordan including Lebanese, Jordanian, Syrian, Iraqi, and Palestinian families. The aim of this research is to see if our approach can be used to support 'at-risk' families facing multiple challenges.
Our research agenda
In the coming months, we will gather feedback from families, facilitators and other implementation teams - all with the aim to scale the intervention and reduce the need for costly specialist care.
Meet our Research and Development Team
Dr. Felicity Brown holds a PhD and Masters degree in Clinical Psychology and is a Senior Researcher at War Child Holland. Her work focuses on the development of psychological and educational interventions for communities affected by armed conflict and other adversities.
Team members: Hind Yousef, Zeinab Mansour, Alexandra Bleile, Kawther Al Bitar, Hadeel Mansour, Bassel Meksassi, Rayane Ali, Joseph Elias, Mark Jordans