On 10th October 2023, World Mental Health Day will be marked for the 31st time. This World Day was first marked on the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health and has aimed to strengthen education and awareness of mental health and removing stigma around mental disorders.
The theme for this year’s world day is “Mental health as a universal human right”.
In an ideal world, all children are safe and free, and young people have plans and dreams for the present and the future. But war and conflicts deprive many children of the opportunity to go to school. Teenagers lose their teenage years and youth and are forced to carry adult responsibilities far too early.
ADRA has during the recent years strengthened the focus on mental health. Education programs and emergency responses often include psychosocial aid as a natural addition to emergency aid covering life necessities.
Children and young people growing up in extreme poverty, war and crisis situations are often marked for life. For children to be able to learn, basic needs need to be met. Personal security represents such a basic need. The framework conditions around learning must aim to be inclusive and safe.
Mental health is challenged in crisis situations, whether it is war, personal crises, accidents, harmful traditions or conflicts in the family, local community, or country. About 20% of children and adults affected by disasters develop psychological problems, which affect their learning. Through psychosocial work, strengthening of local support networks and through training in positive coping strategies, the negative psychological consequences of crises and poverty are reduced.
Good mental health is necessary to cope with challenges and adapt to changes, but also to feel good about oneself, build healthy relationships with others, and enjoy life. It is important to take care of children’s mental health and provide them with the support and care they need to develop into healthy adults.
All people have the same universal right to education. Children and young people who experience relevant and pupil centred education in safe surroundings, have a better chance to succeed or to better. Quality education strengthens mental health and gives hope for a better future.
ADRA train teachers in classroom management and inclusive school environments. Positive coping strategies and good support systems in the local environment are important for the processes of building self-confidence and safe environments.
Written by Gry Haugen, ADRA Norway. Pictures: Monette Indahl, ADRA Norway