24 July 2020

The corona crisis may increase the risk of children being exposed to violence and other abuse. Now, training programs in psychiatric trauma care are being digitalised so that more people can attend them.

Dagens medicin, logotype

“What previous experience tells us is that if there’s a crisis, then there’s a risk of increased exposure to violence,” says Laura Korhonen, Head of Department for Barnafrid, a national knowledge centre at Linköping University.

At the same time, the risk of spreading infection makes it more difficult to attend courses to learn more about the issue. Last week, the government decided to commission Barnafrid to digitalise a skills development program on psychiatric trauma care for children. It is aimed at staff working with mental illness among children, in primary care or in child and adolescent psychiatry (BUP).

The spread of COVID-19 has meant that the healthcare system is severely burdened, the government writes in the decision, noting that “At present, healthcare personnel are not able to show up for training courses in person.”

Laura Korhonen, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.Laura Korhonen, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Photo credit Ulrik Svedin - LiUAccording to Laura Korhonen, this is a problem that personnel in areas such as Värmland and Norrland have already experienced.

“Previous discussion has focussed on there being a need for equal access to trauma care across the country. Covid illustrates this need even more clearly,” Korhonen says.

Barnafrid has already taken on board a government assignment to develop education on the subject. In September, a digitalised basic programme is to be launched, free of charge and of about three hours’ duration. It is aimed at all professional groups working with children.

“What’s so difficult with violence is that you have to know where to look,” says Laura Korhonen.

It is easy to see a bruise, but other types of abuse may be more difficult to identify. Laura Korhonen gives the example of a child who does not come to the health centre, who is often absent from school and may be subject to neglect.

“In this case, there’s the risk of believing you’re not dealing with a child exposed to violence,” she says.

The courses also contain sections on, among other things, children seeking refuge, physical abuse and how to talk about violence with children. According to Korhonen, knowledge of such issues varies greatly across the healthcare service.

“At BUP we have trauma units and the level of knowledge is of course good, but in other places there might, for example, be many new members of staff who do not know what screening tools to use,” she says.

Last week’s government decision points out that children and adolescents who have been exposed to trauma are a particularly vulnerable group. Whether the corona crisis has increased their vulnerability is, however, unclear, according to Laura Korhonen.


This article is published at this site by permission from the Swedish medical news magazine Dagens Medicin.
Here is the article at www.dagensmedicin.se  



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