World Children’s Day on 20 November. Children are facing crises around the world that ultimately impact their mental health and wellbeing. With the right support from their family, friends and community, they can overcome feelings of powerlessness and helplessness and find their own voice. Children are our future; their mental health matters too.
The PS Centre has published numerous resources and toolkits for caregivers, teachers and community volunteers on how they can provide mental health and psychosocial support for children in various crisis settings. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to provide challenges to children and their caregivers, forcing them to adapt to new ways of living, coping and learning.
The PS Centre facilitates and supports National Societies to care for children and to create safe spaces that enable them to grow, learn and thrive. The centre disseminates knowledge through toolkits, training materials and guidelines.
The PS Centre offers several resources to help National Societies in providing psychological support for children in distress, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
PS Centre Technical Advisor Ea Suzanne Akasha developed The Guide for Teachers, which is a part of the A Hopeful, Healthy, and Happy Living and Learning Toolkit. This is a series of tools designed to facilitate support for children, parents/caregivers and teachers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it may be useful for anyone, anywhere, and at any time.
This toolkit includes the following three resources:
The Guide for Teachers
The Parent-Caregiver Guide
The Activity Guide for Teachers, Parents and Children
The materials in Back in school during COVID-19 can be used in schools that re-open and welcome children back again. This guide suggests sessions facilitating the adjustment and return to school, clubs, sport and leisure activities and will assist children in reflecting on their experiences of the pandemic and the skills acquired going through these experiences. The sessions are tailored to fit different age groups and there is the choice of carrying out full sessions or to adapt them to the context.
This training module introduces participants to psychological first aid for children. It is one of four modules on psychological first aid.
It aims to enable participants to:
know more about children’s reactions to distress
understand what psychological first aid for children is
learn the three action principles of ‘Look, Listen and Link’ in relation to children
have practised providing PFA to a child and caregiver in distress
have considered complex reactions and situations
be aware of the importance of self-care when helping others
This training module, focused on responding to children, is part of the Basic training in PFA for COVID19 outbreak response package, which was developed in response to the urgent need for training on how to support people in distress because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Run the interactive on-line training using the accompanying PowerPoints, and participant’s worksheet or record the training for participants to follow when it fits their schedule. The training can be translated into any language and adapted to any context.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the PS Centre was involved in developing the children’s book, My Hero is You, created the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings (IASC MHPSS RG). Today, there are over 137 translations and more than 50 multimedia adaptations and accessible formats available.
My Hero is You provides an explanation for children about how they can protect themselves and others from COVID-19, and how to manage the emotional challenges related to the pandemic.
Actions for Heroes was published this year to accompany My Hero is You. Actions for Heroes directs adults on how to have a heartfelt dialogue with children and to educate them about coping with COVID-19 related challenges. It is recommended that adults read the storybook with children. The guide not only explains how adults can create safe spaces for children to openly share their feelings about the virus, but it also directs adults on how to promote positive actions for children to protect themselves and others.
In this interview, PS Centre Technical Advisor Sarah Harrison describes the making of My Hero is You and the lessons learned throughout this process.
Every Friday, the PS Centre posts a new self-care exercise on Facebook and Instagram. The exercises introduce relaxation techniques, reflective thinking, and stress management skills and promote psychosocial wellbeing, and coping. Even if it is not always the case, the exercises are often suited for children. In light of World Children’s Day, this week’s exercise is designed to encourage children’s imagination, dreams and hopes. It helps them to identify practical ways of moving toward their goals.