Education, mental health and well-being

Hundreds of millions of children today are at risk of physical, emotional, psychological and social harm in conflict. 33 Governments, donors and parties to conflict can – and must – tackle the problem. Through a systemic, adequately resourced response, it is possible to protect children and scale up support to enable children’s recovery from the horrors of war.

According to a report released by Save the Child, it states that, missing out on education can be a source of mental distress in itself for children, and can diminish their hope for the future – a critical aspect of well-being.

With the right amount of  awareness and expertise, schools and child-friendly spaces can provide children with access to supportive relationships with peers, teachers and community members, and a sense of cohesion with and belonging to their wider society. This supports children’s – and caregivers’ – well-being.

Given the connection between psychological well-being and learning, we know that integrating psycho-social approaches, mental health promotion and preventative interventions into education services plays a critical role in mitigating the
harmful effects of exposure to conflict.

Incorporating education as a healing process in mental health.

Safe Schools programming aims to address the impact on children of conflict and of attacks on schools.It brings together different interventions designed for conflict-affected or fragile contexts, where children are facing disruption in education because of military use or occupation of schools, or because of direct attacks on schools.

It supports both the psycho-social and physical protection of children through building resilience and strengthening referral mechanisms.The aim of these activities is to anticipate, prepare for and respond to shocks and stresses children may
face in school as a result of conflict, as well as on their journey to and from school.

Heart Program:Healing and Education through the Arts (HEART) is Save the Children’s arts-based psycho-social support program for children affected by serious or chronic stress. HEART gives children opportunities to process their emotions through painting, drawing, music, story-telling, drama and other art forms.

Munguiko, 14, attends a child-friendly space at a refugee camp in Uganda. “As I began to come to the center, I found people who can speak my language, people my age who I can play with,” he says. “I love playing football, interacting and talking to others, drawing and modelling.”

The program allows them to explore their feelings, ideas and experiences with trusted adults in a creative environment where they feel safe and connected with their peers. Over time, children are better able to process stress, support each other and engage with those around them.

Children attending these centers also need support to understand and process feelings and emotions related to living in chronically stressful environments. By supporting children’s emotional well-being, we also support their learning – improved emotional well-being leads to improved concentration, communication and engagement in the classroom, all critical components of successful learning environments.

Education that integrates the promotion of mental health and well-being can also support children’s broader recovery. This kind of integrated support can include differential learning; small-group work on social and emotional learning and resilience; and focused teaching support.

Increasing access to education in emergencies, and integrating MHPSS services within that, is paramount to protecting children’s mental health.However, it is insufficient to respond only to children’s mental health.

States must protect it. This will only be achieved if states and the wider international community tackle the impunity of those who perpetrate grave violations against children, uphold the norms and standards of conflict, and do much more to protect children in conflict on the ground.

There's need to fully resource the Education Cannot Wait replenishment of $1.8 billion by 2021 to ensure 9 million crisis-affected children have the opportunity to learn and recover.

Need to support progress towards a political declaration on avoidance of the use of
explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas.

Commit to endorse and fully implement the Safe Schools Declaration and to encourage
other states to follow suit.

support international mechanisms to prosecute cases of violations of children’s rights in conflict, including through resourcing dedicated gender-sensitive, child-specific expertise in international investigations and through support for the International Criminal Court and ad-hoc judicial mechanisms

Source:Report by Save the Children.


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