Mental health in Syrian children with a focus on post-traumatic stress: a cross-sectional study from Syrian schools

Jon Davis Perkins, Maiss Ajeeb, Lina Fadel, Ghassan Saleh

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Studies show that conflict can negatively affect psychological health. The Syrian crisis is 8 years old and yet little is known about the impact of the conflict on the well-being of Syrians who remain. This gap was addressed by conducting an empirical study on the mental health burden of Syrian children in two areas of the country.

492 children between 8 and 15 years were randomly selected from schools in Damascus and Latakia. The incidence of psychological disorder symptoms was measured using self-report screening instruments, the Children’s Revised Impact of Event Scale (CRIES-8) and the Revised Children’s Anxiety and Depression Scale (RCADS-25). Simultaneously, sociodemographic and traumatic event information was collected. Binary logistic regression was used to identify factors that influence the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.

In our sample, 50.2% of students were internally displaced and 32.1% reported a negative experience. 60.5% of those tested had at least one probable psychological disorder with PTSD the most common (35.1%), followed by depression (32.0%), and anxiety (29.5%). Binary logistic regression indicated that PTSD symptoms were predicted by: living in Damascus [odds ratio (OR) 2.36, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.51–3.69], being female (1.54, 1.02–2.34), having depression and anxiety (2.55, 1.48–4.40), and the negative experiences; displacement and daily warzone exposure (1.84, 1.02–3.30 and 2.67, 1.08–6.60).

Syrian children are experiencing traumatic events and war-associated daily stresses that are hugely impacting psychological well-being. Our data offer guidance for mental health providers regarding risk factors and highlights the use of the school system to reach suffering children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1231–1239
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Issue number11
Early online date6 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


  • War trauma
  • PTSD
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Risk factors


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