Children and adolescents treated for post-traumatic stress disorder at the Free State Psychiatric Complex
AbstractBackground. Children and adolescents can develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after exposure to a range of traumatic events, including domestic, political or community violence, violent crime, physical and sexual abuse, hijacking, witnessing a violent crime and motor vehicle accidents. This is particularly critical given the substantial challenge that PTSD poses to the healthy physical, cognitive and emotional development of children and adolescents.
Methods. The clinical records of 1 229 children (age 2 - 11 years) and adolescents (age 12 - 18 years) treated at the Child Mental Health Unit of
the Free State Psychiatric Complex (FSPC) were screened for the diagnosis of PTSD and analysed for the purpose of this study.
Results. Forty-nine (4.0%) of the children and adolescents treated at the unit were diagnosed with PTSD, of whom most were female (63.3%). Approximately 22% of the participants had comorbid major depressive disorder. The main traumatic event in both groups was witnessing the death of a close relative (32.7%), followed by sexual assault (25%), rape (25%) and physical attack (10.2%). Associated stressors identified included problems at school (55.1%), isolation (39%), fear or anxiety (37%), problematic family relationships (29%), emotional (27%) and physical (23%) abuse, and lack of social support (23%). Most of the participants (59.2%) received psychotherapy.
Conclusions. Children and adolescents referred to the FSPC are also exposed to traumatic events which lead to the development of PTSD.
The Free State is a sprawling province with remote areas where specialist services and facilities are limited. It is therefore recommended that preventive programmes, training opportunities and consultation services are implemented to identify and treat children and adolescents with PTSD. Schools with limited access to psychological services and large classrooms, impeding the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD specifically, face similar challenges. Reinforcement of professional services and the upgrading of facilities will decrease the burden on the Child Mental Health Unit, but will require collaborative efforts from role players such as the National Departments of Health and Education.
The author(s) retain copyright on work published by AOSIS unless specified otherwise.
Licensing and publishing rights
Author(s) of work published by AOSIS are required to grant AOSIS the unlimited rights to publish the definitive work in any format, language and medium, for any lawful purpose.
AOSIS requires journal authors to publish their work in open access under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence.
Read more here: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
The authors retain the non-exclusive right to do anything they wish with the published article(s), provided attribution is given to the applicable journal with details of the original publication, as set out in the official citation of the article published in the journal. The retained right specifically includes the right to post the article on the authors’ or their institution’s websites or in institutional repositories.
Previously published work may have been published under a different licence. We advise the community that if they would like to reuse the work to consult the applicable licence at article level.