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For the past several years, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies has been working to produce a book and a report about intervening with trauma survivors around the globe, with a particular focus on developing countries without a strong mental health infrastructure. The goal is to bring knowledge about trauma to health professionals and social and public policy makers, and to recommend intervention strategies for trauma survivors at the policy, community, family and individual levels.

The project also addresses reactions to stress and trauma associated with deployment to UN-related missions in the field. ISTSS is collaborating in this effort with the United Nations, as well as with the Transcultural Psychosocial Organisation, the National Center for PTSD, the International Policy Research Institute, and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research of the National Institutes of Health. The material will apply to many countries with different approaches to problems stemming from trauma.

The initiative was inspired by the 1995 World Summit for Social Development. This meeting represented a landmark shift by governments to support policies that promote a people-centered framework for social development and justice. Among its 10 commitments, the Summit Declaration pledged to eradicate poverty in the world and to give special priority to the rights of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. It promotes universal and equitable access to quality physical and mental health care.

Ellen Frey-Wouters, PhD, former ISTSS representative to the United Nations, initiated this project in August 1998, and it has developed with support from John Langmore, director of the Division for Social Policy and Development at the UN, and Martin Barber, formerly with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The World Health Organization and UNICEF also have provided input.

The book, Trauma in War and Peace: Prevention, Practice and Policy, is edited by Bonnie Green, Matt Friedman, Joop de Jong, Susan Solomon, Terry Keane, John Fairbank, Brigid Donelan and Ellen Frey-Wouters, with Yael Danieli as special consultant. Kluwer Academic/Plenum will publish the book, which will be the first in a series on cultural and international psychology with series editor Anthony Marsella, PhD.

The book features several overview chapters on the conceptualization of traumatic stress and its consequences, general guidelines for intervention, and social and economic deprivation as contexts for prevention and recovery. In addition, there is a focus on interventions for specific trauma populations, including children abused in peacetime; victims of crime and violence; abused elderly; mentally and physically disabled; and victims of torture, to name a few. Also included is a chapter about UN peacekeepers and civilian field personnel.

Resulting from this work, a report to the UN will be presented to the Committee on Social Development in 2002. The project has been funded to date by ISTSS, the Division for Social Policy and Development at the UN, Ellen Frey-Wouters, PhD, the National Center for PTSD and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research at NIH.