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School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

Global Mental Health

Refugee camp

This website provides information on the global mental health research led by Prof Michael Pluess and his collaborators. The research includes the investigation of psychosocial and biological factors associated with psychological resilience, the reliable assessment of mental health problems, as well as the development and evaluation of psychological interventions.

Development and Evaluation of Phone-Delivered Psychotherapy for Children in Humanitarian Settings: The t-CETA Study

The study aims to adapt and evaluate the Common Elements Treatment Approach (CETA) for delivery by trained lay counsellors over the phone to Syrian refugee children living in Lebanon.

Empirical studies investigating the mental health of children in humanitarian settings have found that many children in war-affected settings with a need for psychological treatment don’t have access to mental health services. Humanitarian health organisations working in these settings tend to be confronted with many obstacles, including lack of funding to set up new mental health services, difficulties in recruiting qualified local staff, and restricted access of the refugee population to primary health care centres.

These challenges are difficult to address with conventional mental health services, which tend to be provided by mental health specialists in centralised primary health care centres. In order to overcome these hurdles, this project aims to adapt and evaluate the existing transdiagnostic psychological treatment programme called Common Elements Treatment Approach (CETA) for the delivery by trained lay counsellors over phone. The study has been funded by a grant awarded by Elrha

Child refugeeThe project has two objectives:

  • Development of telephone-delivered CETA (t-CETA) by adapting the existing face-to-face CETA intervention
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of t-CETA with a small mixed-methods pilot trial

If found to be effective, telephone-delivered CETA (t-CETA) will facilitate the provision of psychological intervention for children in humanitarian emergency and other low-resource settings with limited access to mental health services.


  • The t-CETA research project is funded by Elrha’s Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) Programme, which aims to improve health outcomes by strengthening the evidence base for public health interventions in humanitarian crises.
  • R2HC is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), Wellcome, and the UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
  • Visit for more information about Elrha’s work to improve humanitarian outcomes through research, innovation, and partnership.

Guidance on Delivering Psychological Treatment to Children via Phone

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the immediate necessity for many practitioners to deliver psychological treatment through phone or other remote technologies. Here we provide a guidance document that sets out basic principles for the delivery of psychological therapy to children via telephone, drawing on recent our experience of adapting an existing treatment programme to phone-delivery among Syrian refugee children in Lebanon.

It is aimed at mental health services that are adapting therapies to phone-delivery, and is especially relevant for those working in refugee or other low resource settings. Although we propose a number of specific solutions, it is important that each service adapts these further in order to create protocols that are appropriate to their specific setting, population, and type of therapy.

Key points covered include:

  • Developing safety protocols for managing risk over the phone
  • Adapting therapy to maintain child engagement and using alternatives to workbooks or written materials
  • Tips to manage specific practical and treatment-related challenges that can arise during therapy

This guidance document was developed by Prof Michael Pluess and Dr Fiona McEwen (Queen Mary University of London), Dr Tania Bosqui (American University of Beirut), Nicolas Chehade (Médecins du Monde), and Dr Laura Murray and Stephanie Skavenski (Johns Hopkins University).

QMUL_Guidance for Delivering Psychological Treatment to Children [PDF 1,544KB]