A fitting celebration, but research not for the faint hearted

A special PhD graduation day for Seyda and Elijah, but let’s not forget what they actually achieved right in at the deep end:

Difficult enough exploratory studies, followed by interventions with Syrian refugee children in Turkey and internally displaced children in Kenya, with virtually no resources, deserves nothing but admiration (even if some us looked like Madame Tussaud’s wax figures!).

You can read the first stage of their tough studies at:




theraplay group


WACIT Kenya: Seeing our nursery children flourish

This is a tough rural slum area following internal displacement a decade ago. Although these young children have not experienced ethnic violence, they have experienced every other adversity, living away from any available services. So, for a small local charity to develop the nursery was always going to be a big ask.

But they/we have found ways to employ a nursery teacher and supporting resources, and progress was visible. Most children wore nice uniforms; and appeared used to structure, games and learning. They were pleased but not overexcited to see us, which was comforting. Can you spot the WACIT girl in the photos?

WACIT Kenya: ‘But we told you already!’ – child participation ending with high-5s

Lesson learnt from first day: let them get on with it! So exciting to see them offer and debate help-seeking ideas on the first scenario and ending up with a larger group, as some children forced their way in.

When we tried to ‘up’ the scenarios, one girl reminded us they had told us already – meaning that the broad strategies were the same, but needed to be placed in context. Still, they carried on with same zeal, and were generous enough to high-5 me, meaning it was time for lunch!

WACIT Kenya: Proud to sign

The children thought it was hilarious – after showing us how to sign and told us which grade they were in, then me letting them know seriously that I was coming to grade 1. They had a laugh and pulled faces!

It was a passing visit through this impressive unit for children with hearing impairment within a mainstream school. There are varied options for integration, depending on the hearing levels. What was most pleasing was witnessing the children’s and teachers’ pride. It was great to learn to sign the word ‘happy’!

WACIT Kenya: Let’s go younger for child participation

Last year the teenagers shone across four LMI countries in defining resilience strategies in response to different adversities. They all came from areas of disadvantage and we will be reporting on their exciting findings shortly. So, we thought of asking younger children today. Why not 9-10 year-olds?

Once the shyness was over, and Elijah and myself got out of their way, they truly participated and came up with great suggestions on sources of help, why they are important and how to improve access. Two more keen groups waiting for tomorrow!

Child mental health is “everybody’s responsibility”: New paper with stakeholder perspectives from Kenya

This was a very catchy title for an early and influential child mental health UK policy that really shifted emphasis from only focusing on specialist services. So, actually hearing stakeholders’ in Elijah’s study use exactly the same words in an Kenya urban area of disadvantage was so refreshing.

Elijah interviewed young people, parents, teachers, other professionals, community and religious leads in a slum area. The four identified themes related to definitions of both mental well-being and mental health problems; a range of contributing factors related to identity resolution, parenting, poverty and social media; attribution of responsibility at different socio-ecological levels; and required awareness, supports and interventions at these levels. Thanks to Inge for leading the writing up too!