Resilience in School in the Context of War: Effects of a Positive Psychology Program on School Children’s Mental Health

Conference: The European Conference on Education (ECE2022)
Title: Resilience in School in the Context of War: Effects of a Positive Psychology Program on School Children’s Mental Health
Stream: Mind, Brain & Psychology: Human Emotional & Cognitive Development & Outcomes within Educational Contexts
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Anat Shoshani, Reichman University, Israel


Despite the growing calls for peace and accelerated attempts at peace-building initiatives, many regions in the world are besieged by conflict and war. Children in these unstable environments experience substantial psychological morbidities and symptoms. The presentation will present a study that evaluated the effects of a positive-psychology intervention on adolescents exposed for a prolonged war-related vents as a result of the Israeliā€“Palestinian conflict. Participants were 2,228 adolescents from four middle-schools in southern Israel. Schools were randomly assigned to intervention and a waiting-list control conditions.

The Positive Psychology program comprised eight primary components of subjective well-being: (1) Developing emotion regulation; (2) Fostering gratitude; (3) Cultivating flow experiences; (4) Fostering social support; (5) Utilizing character strengths; (6) Cultivating resilience factors; (7) Promoting kindness; (8) Pursuing self-concordant goals. The program comprised two parallel curricula: one for teachers and one for students. Psychologists delivered an annual 30-hour program to the teachers, and the teachers implemented an age-appropriate program in their own classrooms. The participants completed Political Life Events scale (Slone, 1997), The Brief Symptom Inventory (Derogatis & Spencer, 1993), Satisfaction with life scale (Diener et al., 1985), Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (Laurent, 1999), and Peace Attitudes Questionnaire (Bar, 1999).

A repeated measures MANOVA indicated a significant reduction in mental health symptoms, improved subjective well-being, and higher motivation for conflict resolution and hopes for peace among the intervention group, whereas the control group showed worsening trends in these measurements. This presentation underscores the contribution of positive-psychology interventions to adolescents in war-affected regions.

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