All children have a right to mental health and wellbeing
Worldwide, 14% of children and adolescents experience mental health disorders. 1 in 5 individuals living in conflict have mental health disorders. And yet, only 1% of the world’s health budget is dedicated to children’s mental health. It’s not enough. They need more.
For years, Save the Children has responded to the unique needs of children impacted by conflict and displacement. In the wake of the pandemic, we've worked around the clock to help to address the immediate and long-term threats of COVID-19, including the devastating toll on children’s mental health globally.
With current support for children’s mental health needs in conflicts woefully inadequate, Save the Children is proud to support the MINDS Act, the first-ever piece of legislation to prioritize mental health support in U.S. foreign aid. Join us - Tell Congress to pass the MINDS Act by visiting our political advocacy arm – Save the Children Action Network – and sending a message to Congress.
Conflict can affect children indirectly. It can even impact children who are not experiencing it firsthand.
Even if they are not physically harmed by violence, children can experience toxic stress from witnessing violence, hearing attacks, fleeing their homes. Any child who has been displaced has experienced loss.
Displacement means a child will have lost secure access to food, shelter, health care, and protection.
Not all children who experience trauma are traumatized—and we must acknowledge and respect that they are active participants in their lives.
Some children will be traumatized. They may act out, experience increased anxiety, or have internalizing effects such as stomach aches, urinary incontinence, or trouble sleeping.
Getting children back to school and play—and quickly—is key to supporting their resilience.
Children are under increasing emotional and psychological pressure as they bear the brunt of the world's worsening crisis.
Daria and her mother left Ukraine to escape the deadly conflilct but their escape to Poland was not easy. "We were in a bomb shelter," her mother explains, "and from there we went to Lviv by an evacuation train. We were in such a nervous state, not knowing where we were going."
After arriving in Poland, Daria began attending a summer camp supported by Save the Children, where she learned Polish and received mental health support.
Language barriers, disruption to daily routines, and getting used to new places can impact children's mental health.
"Thanks to being at the camp, I have met new friends," she said, "I have spent more time communicating with others."
Rahima* was top of her class and loved going to school, but when the economic crisis in Afghanistan intensified and her family struggled to eat, her parents were forced to arrange her engagement to an older man.
Shortly after the engagement, Rahima dropped out of school and stopped talking to her family and friends.
“I was lost," said Rahima, a"nd there was pressure from every side - the conflict and pressures from my family - and I became disillusioned about continuing my education. Now I’m slowly improving, and this has happened because of Save the Children’s support. Rasheeda is like my teacher; she has helped me a lot.”
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Children in distress need to feel heard and to know that people care.
Through mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) and education programs, Save the Children has been able to help children better cope with their experiences. Our approach to MHPSS programming is often delivered through our Child-Friendly Spaces, safe spaces were children can redevelop emotional relationships. Some of the activities carried out include:
The HEART (Healing and Education through the Arts) program was designed by Save the Children as a form of psychosocial support in which children benefit from learning to adapt and overcome the distressing situations they have experienced through arts-based group activities.
Our Child Resilience work is a comprehensive programme that addresses children’s wellbeing in a holistic way, recognising that children’s wellbeing is influenced by their interaction with their parents or caregivers, their peers and others in their community.
Psychological support delivered by psychologists which helps children and teenagers understand what is happening to them and cope with their feelings.
What You Can Do To Help
Mental health is still a stigma in many places, meaning children often do not get the support they desperately need. Raising awareness about its importance and ensuring we are there to offer ways to cope is essential.
Your donation to the Children’s Emergency Fund, an essential resource as we prepare for and respond to the significant increase in the number of children who need emotional support, helps us respond quickly to humanitarian crises across the globe that are threatening children’s lives and mental health. Join our political advocacy arm - Save the Children Action Network - and tell Congress to pass the MINDS Act.
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