Psychosocial Support Can Help Heal A Generation Of Youth Affected By Syria’s Crisis


October 2, 2017

Research reveals Mercy Corps program improved the well-being of Syrian refugee and Jordanian adolescents

Portland, Ore. – A new study led by Yale University published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry evaluates a Mercy Corps psychosocial support program for Syrian refugee and Jordanian adolescents. The study found the program improved the mental health and psychosocial well-being of youth affected by Syria’s six-year conflict. More than half of Syrian refugees – 2.4 million – are under the age of 18, and nearly one in four of these young people is a teenager.

In a randomized control trial, researchers found that the program demonstrated benefits for young people who expressed high levels of insecurity, measured in terms of worries and fears about oneself, one’s family and one’s future. Their recovery was accelerated, relative to youth who did not access the program.

The study complements Mercy Corps’ own program evaluation, during which Mercy Corps found numerous positive outcomes for both young Syrian and Jordanian participants:

  • Measurable improvements in levels of trust both within their own communities and for people of other nationalities and beliefs. Participants also reported having, on average, five more friends of differing origins and beliefs than did the control group.
  • Bolstered feelings of safety and security.
  • Increased confidence and greater aspirations for the future, a direct result of program elements such as intentional goal-planning sessions, structured group activities and community-engagement activities.

“Our collective research underscores the importance of continued investments in psychosocial support for adolescents and youth who play a critical role in the present and future of the region,” says Amie Wells, regional youth and adolescent advisor for Mercy Corps. “To ensure lasting impact, programs must engage both Syrian and Jordanian youth, as well as family and community to ensure long-term recovery.”

Mercy Corps launched the program in 2014 to develop empathy and resilience, support psychosocial improvement and build strong ties to family and community. The program provided skills building activities, mentors and service projects, such as repairing deteriorated walking paths or painting murals.

Download the Mercy Corps program evaluation and read Yale’s press release and findings in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

PDF icon MC Advancing Adolescents News Release October 2017.pdf