PhD student works with Syrian refugee children to examine impact of trauma on mental health

A PhD student from the Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour has described their journey to study at Leicester and how our University has provided opportunities for them to conduct research to help child victims of the Syrian Civil War.

Seyda Eruyar’s (pictured) research investigates the effect of parental factors on the relationship between exposure to war-related traumatic events and children’s mental health problems, collecting data from two Syrian schools in Istanbul with 322 Syrian children aged between 8 – 18 years and their parents.

In an article written for Think: Leicester, the University’s platform for independent academic opinion, Seyda describes how in her research children who were securely attached to their parents experienced fewer mental health problems, with her findings also suggesting that boys experienced more traumatic events than girls and reported more overall mental health problems.

Seyda said: “The Syrian Civil War, which started in 2011, has caused the biggest refugee flow since World War II. Millions of people are forced into fleeing to other countries, predominantly Turkey and Jordan, to seek a safe haven from ongoing war and armed conflict resulting in persecution, fatalities and hostile circumstances in their homeland.

“Severe traumatic events such as witnessing people persecuted and killed, inhuman treatment and losing their beloved ones have a negative impact on the mental health of Syrian refugee children.”

In the article Seyda also highlights how Leicester has provided opportunities to conduct research in different countries.

“The multicultural structure of Leicester, its diversity, the success of Leicester City and, of course, the numerous opportunities that the University of Leicester provides have all enabled me to survive in a foreign country without any difficulty,” Seyda says.

This autumn Seyda, working with Professor Panos Vostanis, is heading to Istanbul as part of the ‘6 Continents in 6 Weeks’ phase to re-unite with the enthusiastic staff and volunteers at the Hayat Foundation, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that supports children who work on the streets because of economic difficulties of their families.