The Bio-Psychosocial Impact of Trauma on Children and Adolescents

The Jamaican society has been impacted by various events that have affected children and adolescents in adverse ways. These include natural disasters like storms, hurricanes, flooding, various crimes including murders, rapes and other asaults of various types.This has come at a time when there are few resources to care for the majority of our young people who are impacted by these events. Hence, there is an urgent need to prioritise in caring for this vulnerable age group, who will become the adults of tomorrow.HPA axis dysregulation and psychiatric disorders frequently occur as a result of traumatic incidences. As a result, children and adolescents may experience psychiatric disorders including, conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disoder and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is important to note though that some persons are spared the worst effects of trauma since they have some immunity to these disorders due to certain genotypes.Evidence-based treatments which have proved to be efficacious in providing care for children and adolescents are Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavior Therapy. However, many therapists do not report that they are trained in providing evidenced based therapies so these treatments are not used widely in this country.One Jamaican has reported that he has developed an assessment measure for maltreated children, which is currently used by the local Ministry of Education.Also, it is reported that an estimated 100,000 persons in these two age groups have never been assessed, diagnosed and treated for various disorders. The main reason is that there is an acute shortage of services needed to care for these young people. Another reason for this neglect of care is due to poor or non-existent facilities to care for these children and adolescents.Staffing of the few available facilities here has been an issue, since many persons, including governmental authorities do not recognize the need for care for this population. Even if they do recognize the need for these services,skilled personnel who are trained to administer efficacious treatments are often unavailable for providing this care.There is now an ever-increasing need to educate the general population of this country about the benefits to be derived from caring for children by providing evidence-based treatments which is now lacking. Jamaicans living at home as well as in the diaspora need to lobby for government and private sector involvement for the two groups so as to stave off the worst long-term effects of maltreatment in these groups.