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Date: 2017-05-01
Title: Beginnings, An Initiative of the MGH Pierce Division of Global Psychiatry

Update by Dr. Menekse Alpay

Not long ago in 2016, some in Turkey’s ruling party tried to pass a law stipulating that young girl rape survivors older than 12 years of age should be married off to their perpetrators (mostly Syrian refugees) so that the perpetrators would not go to jail. This law was eventually withdrawn but it signaled a great need for increased trauma awareness and its effects especially in children in Turkey and the Middle East.

I, Dr. Menekse Alpay of MGH Psychiatry, with my friends Dr. Berna Hocaoglu (Infectious Disease, Director of Halic Hospital in Istanbul), and Dr. Petek Arioglu (Ob&Gyn in private practice) with the help of our female classmates from Istanbul University Medical School (class 1993), founded a non-governmental organization to increase trauma awareness and to improve the medical care and psychiatric care of children and women who are severely traumatized. The name of the NGO is “Beginnings”, “Baslangic” in Turkish. Dr. Greg Fricchione, Director of the MGH Pierce Global Psychiatry Division, has encouraged and supervised the initiative.

Our first project is to work with the Turkish Family and Social Policy Ministry to establish an infrastructure and to improve medical and psychiatric health services offered to severely traumatized children who are under their care. This ministry serves children who arrive from all over the world as well from all regions of Turkey after severe trauma for protection and rehabilitation.

Our first project is to work with the Turkish Family and Social Policy Ministry to establish an infrastructure and to improve medical and psychiatric health services offered to severely traumatized children who are under their care. This ministry serves children who arrive from all over the world as well from all regions of Turkey after severe trauma for protection and rehabilitation.

We have arranged an evidence based program, with the help of Dr. Dost Ongur of Psychiatry at McLean Hospital, for the team that is building this residential center in Istanbul. The team consists of faculty members from Istanbul University Child Psychiatry Department, psychologists from Family and Social Policy Ministry and our NGO staff. They will attend a DBT conference at McLean in June and visit professionals at our institutions (MGH, McLean, and Franciscan Hospitals).

We proposed that the ideal setting would be to construct a well-defined, evolving system by training teams that work with these children according to international standards to provide sustainable high quality psychotherapy. Dr. Michelle Jacobo of MGH Psychiatry is leading the project to develop DBT informed treatment programs for different levels of care. Dr. Louisa Sylvia has also been crucial in developing this program.

On 15-16 April 2017, our NGO organized a conference on child psychiatric diseases under the leadership of Dr. Esra Caglar (Tavistock Clinic, England) and myself with contributions from Istanbul University Medical School faculty and Bakırköy Mental and Neurological Diseases Training and Research Hospital (biggest psychiatric hospital in Turkey) staff members.

All Harvard Medical School Faculty Members have been very generous with their time and help. I feel so honored to be a part of this wonderful community. I believe we can help to further care for those with mental illness not only in our neighborhoods but all over the world. We are very privileged in that MGH and McLean are sharing their resources and knowledge in this important effort to relieve the suffering of these traumatized young people.


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