Adressing mental health in emergencies

FORUT participated in this years Giving Hope conference, organized by Right To Play. The conference explored the links of mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) to wellbeing and education in emergencies and protracted crises.

– We all remember our first day of school, and more and more children have experienced it over the past two decades, mentioned Bård Vegar Solhjell, Director General at Norad. 

However, there are still gaps to be closed, and we need to closely examine the statistics post-COVID-19. Globally, 224 million children are affected by conflict and/or crisis, with 72 million out of school. In conflict and crisis situations, resources are scarce, yet education is crucial for the psychosocial development of every child.

The relationship between education and mental health greatly impacts children’s lived experiences. Education serves as an important setting that can provide stability, structure, routine, stress relief, promote resilience, and aid in trauma recovery.

Learning through play has a positive impact on children because it:

  • Reestablishes a sense of agency, control, and hope for the future
  • Enables a safe space for children to mentally process experiences and discuss trauma and sensitive issues
  • Provides opportunities to learn and practice social skills, emotion regulation, and problem-solving.

What can the international community do?

  • Recognize that education is central to any humanitarian and development response, as it has long-term effects on communities 
  • Ensure that children receive support, including Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) during and after crises
  • Involve children in the process to ensure that interventions are on the right track
  • Be mindful of cultural sensitivity to avoid causing harm
  • Implement community-based interventions with community involvement
  • Support adults working with children to ensure the safety of children

FORUT is also thrilled to announce that on March 25th, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution to celebrate a new international day to emphasize the importance of play.

The International Day of Play will take place on June 11th every year starting this year. We are also proud to mention that among the organizations that supported the campaign is The Concerned for the Working Children (CWC), one of FORUT’s partners in India.

Christine Fabara and Ståle Stavrum, FORUT:

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