News Release| Child Development Journal - Sri Lanka study; Cal State L.A.


Note to news directors and editors:

CSULA Professor Gaithri Fernando is available for interviews. She can be
reached directly a

or (323) 343-2260.

Impact of trauma, daily stressors on
Sri Lankan children analyzed in
CSULA professor’s study

Special section of ‘Child Development’ to focus on children and

Los Angeles, CA –

There is a need for policies and
interventions that focus on reducing daily stressors that are impacting
Sri Lankan children exposed to disasters, indicates a research paper
featured in the July/August special section of the Child Development
journal released today. 

Picture of Gaithri Fernando.

The paper, entitled “Growing Pains: The Impact of Disaster-related
and Daily Stressors on the Psychological and Psychosocial Functioning of
Youth in Sri Lanka
,” looked at more than 400 Sri Lankan children,
ages 11 to 20, who survived the 2004 tsunami and ongoing civil war.

found that in spite of the trauma suffered through the war and disaster,
we must not miss the importance of the ongoing stressors—such as
poverty, family violence and lack of safe housing—that are directly
affecting these youths’ psychological health,”
said Gaithri Fernando, who led the study. Fernando is an
associate professor of psychology and director of the Center for the
Study of Traumatic Stress at California State University, Los Angeles.

The full text of the paper is available at

Picture of Gaithri Fernando with counselors in Sri Lanka.
Pictured: Professor Gaithri Fernando (standing, second from the right) with counselors she trained in Sri Lanka in 2006.

A Los Angeles resident and a Sri Lanka native, Fernando is a licensed
clinical psychologist specializing on the importance of cultural
experience and expression of posttraumatic stress, in the context of war
and extreme traumas such as torture. Her other areas of specialty
include cross-cultural psychology and ethnic minority issues in
psychology. She received her M.A. from Yale and Ph.D. from Fuller
Graduate School of Psychology.

Fernando has worked extensively in Sri Lanka, conducting research and
training programs. She has coordinated workshops for medical interns in
Colombo, for domestic violence counselors, for teacher-counselors
selected by the Ministry of Education, and for full-time ministry
workers sponsoring a refugee camp. She has authored three
published papers on the cultural aspects of mental health issues related
to tsunami and Sri Lankans. She has presented several papers at
the annual meetings of the International Society of Traumatic Stress
Studies, the American Psychological Association, and the Western
Psychological Association, addressing the cultural aspects of trauma. In
the summer of 2008, she was awarded a grant by the Asia Foundation to
conduct a study entitled “Risk, Resistance, Resilience, and Recovery
Among Sri Lankans.”

Most recently, Fernando’s work was cited in a book examining western
assumptions about mental health in developing nations authored by Ethan
Watters (2010), entitled Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of American
. She returned to Los Angeles early this month from visiting
the London School of Economics, where she was invited to present a paper
at a conference focusing on the Global Mental Health Movement. Papers
from this conference will be published in a special issue of
Transcultural Psychiatry

In addition to Fernando, co-authors of the research paper published in
Child Development include Kenneth E. Miller, formerly at the
Harvard School of Public Health, and Dale E. Berger, Claremont Graduate

This study was made possible by funding from Pomona College, a grant
from the Minority Biomedical Research Support program at Cal State L.A.,
and by material support from the Centre for Psychosocial Care, Sri

For a related press release by the Society for Research in Child
Development, go to

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