First trauma support network has helped over 2,300 children

(From far left) Ms Woon Saet Nyoon, CEO of Temasek Foundation Cares; Professor Alex Sia, CEO of KK Women's and Children's Hospital; President Halimah Yacob; Mr Richard Magnus, chairman of Temasek Foundation Cares; and Ms Lynn Soh, chairman of the Chi
(From left) Ms Woon Saet Nyoon, CEO of Temasek Foundation Cares; Professor Alex Sia, CEO of KK Women's and Children's Hospital; President Halimah Yacob; Mr Richard Magnus, chairman of Temasek Foundation Cares; and Ms Lynn Soh, chairman of the Child Trauma Conference 2019 organising committee, at the conference yesterday.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

A support network to help children affected by various forms of trauma has helped more than 2,300 children, along with their parents, since it was set up three years ago.

The Stay Prepared - Trauma Network for Children offers therapy and psychological support and is the first network of its kind here.

Its programmes have also trained over 1,000 therapists, school counsellors and social workers to provide appropriate intervention for these children.

The figures were announced at the Child Trauma Conference yesterday, organised by KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) and philanthropic organisation Temasek Foundation Cares, which helped to develop the network.

One key outcome of the network is training school and community therapists in a structured support therapy already used in hospitals here.

Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT) is an evidence-based intervention model for children experiencing post-trauma, psycho-emotional difficulties.

It provides intensive structured trauma intervention to children and youth who - after more than one month since a traumatic experience - are still experiencing levels of distress that affect their daily functioning.

Among the 1,672 children and parents who have undergone the therapy in Singapore, there were significant improvements in the children's trauma, anxiety and mood symptoms.

A total of 168 therapists in the community have also been trained and certified in TF-CBT.

Temasek Foundation Cares is providing $3.5 million in funding over 31/2 years for the network.

 

"Research suggests that positive relational experiences and coping strategies can help support those experiencing post-trauma psycho-emotional difficulties," said Associate Professor Ng Kee Chong, chairman of KKH's Medical Board.

"It has also shown that early intervention and having a trauma-informed care system are important in trauma recovery."

At KKH, a Psychosocial Trauma Support Service started in 2007 has helped children and their caregivers prevent and reduce crisis or trauma-related symptoms.

The most common cases include emotional and physical abuse, as well as accidental injuries such as burns, accidents and falls, said Ms Lim Xin Yi, a senior principal psychologist who heads the service.

The conference brings together around 300 local and international trauma experts to share their experiences and best practices in child mental health and welfare.

It is being held at Academia at the Singapore General Hospital and ends today.

President Halimah Yacob was the guest of honour at the opening ceremony yesterday.

As part of the network, 40,000 people have participated in outreach efforts to create awareness of young children with trauma.

Temasek Foundation Cares plans to start a new programme within the next one to two years to teach even more people how to identify children with trauma and equip them with early-intervention skills in trauma counselling.

The organisation aims to train parents, early childhood educators, as well as teachers and leaders in religious groups.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2019, with the headline 'First trauma support network has helped over 2,300 children'. Print Edition | Subscribe