The Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Program at the American University of Beirut Medical Center has announced a groundbreaking new fund to address children’s mental health, established in collaboration with the Abu-Haidar Neuroscience Institute, an AUBMC statement said Monday. The “Focus Fund” was launched Friday at the groups’ third annual conference, titled “School Mental and Behavioral Health: ADHD, Learning Disorders, and Comorbidities,” held at the American University of Beirut’s Hostler Auditorium.
“We are proud of the achievements the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Program has accomplished over the past three years. This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of so many, and the foremost the support of AUBMC leadership for believing in our work,” said Dr. Fadi Maalouf, chairman of the organizing committee of the conference and director of the program, in his opening remarks.
The conference drew psychiatrists, psychologists, school counselors and concerned parents, and covered everything from research on neurobiology and non-medical treatments, to cultural challenges and practical tips use in the classroom.
Organizers touted the endowment fund as the first of its kind in the region dedicated to supporting children’s learning, mental well-being and emotional resilience, by focusing on children and their environment.
Experts claimed that 25 percent of adolescents in Beirut suffer from an emotional, behavioral or learning disorder, but only 6 percent of those requiring treatment currently receive it.
Experts highlighted the need for a multidisciplinary approach to such afflictions, and highlighted the importance of the new fund for providing critical support to families.
“I am honored to be here to witness the launch of a fund whose mission is to improve the emotional resilience, mental health and learning experiences of children throughout Lebanon,” said Dr. Samia Khoury, associate dean for clinical and translational research and director of the Abu-Haidar Neuroscience Institute and the Nehme and Therese Tohme Multiple Sclerosis Center.
The fund will provide training for primary care professionals and pediatricians to identify mental health issues, and educate teachers and parents on how to manage and support afflicted children. The goal is to make effective mental health care more accessible and to provide families with the resources and education they need to cope.
Khoury expressed hope that the new fund would fuel other initiatives in pursuit of this goal.
“I am confident that AUBMC will build on the fundamental role the fund will significantly play in laying the foundations for other similar funds that would make the care for children with diagnosable social, emotional, behavioral and learning problems available, affordable and accessible.”