The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) has named Syed Arshad Husain as the recipient of its annual Catcher in the Rye Award, given for his advocacy on behalf of young people. He is currently professor emeritus of psychiatry and child health at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Husain has been instrumental in developing innovative methods of caring for children affected by the trauma of conflict and natural disasters.
His “Teachers as Therapists” model trained educators in war zones and disaster areas to identify symptoms of exposure to trauma and then provide some useful interventions. This program has been adapted for use in 18 countries and has trained 6,000 teachers thus far.
The inspiration for the teachers’ program was the war in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
“The five-year siege of Sarajevo was the longest in its history,” recalled Husain in a recent interview to Psychiatric News. “More than 230,000 people were killed, and there were 60,000 children trapped in the city with only 100 mental health professionals, so I thought we should train other people.”
Husain was born in Delhi, India, and moved with his family to Pakistan after the partition of 1947. He graduated from Dow Medical College in Karachi in 1962, trained in psychiatry at the Maudsley Institute in London at McGill University in Montreal, and joined the University of Missouri’s psychiatry department in 1969. During his tenure there, he served as chief of child and adolescent psychiatry and directed the child fellowship program. He became a professor emeritus in 2009 but remains active.
He also received the Bruno Lima Award from APA in 1996 for his contributions to disaster psychiatry and is a former member and chair of APA’s Committee on the Psychiatric Dimensions of Disasters.