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Theresa S. Betancourt is Associate Professor of Child Health and Human Rights in the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Director of the Research Program on Children and Global Adversity (RPCGA). Her central research interests include the developmental and psychosocial consequences of concentrated adversity on children, youth, and families; resilience and protective processes in child and adolescent mental health and child development; refugee families; and applied cross-cultural mental health research.
She is Principal Investigator of a prospective longitudinal study of war-affected youth in Sierra Leone which led to the development of group interventions for these youth that are now being scaled up in collaboration with the World Bank and Government of Sierra Leone. She has developed and evaluated the impact of a Family Strengthening Intervention for HIV-affected children and families and is also investigating the impact of a home-visiting early childhood development intervention to promote enriched parent-child relationships and prevent violence in Rwanda. Domestically, she is engaged in community-based participatory research on family-based prevention of emotional and behavioral problems in refugee children and adolescents resettled in the U.S.
She has written extensively on mental health and resilience in children facing adversity including recent articles in Child Development, The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Social Science and Medicine, JAMA Psychiatry, and PLOS One.
Somali and Bhutanese refugees are two of the largest groups recently resettled in the United States and Canada. This report examines factors that might promote or undermine the mental health and overall well-being of children of these refugees, with regard to factors such as past exposure to trauma, parental mental health, educational attainment, social support, and discrimination.