HEALING AND RECOVERY THROUGH EDUCATION IN EMERGENCIES

Children at one of Save the Children’s temporary learning spaces in Qayyara Airstrip IDP Camp, Iraq © Dario Bosio/DARST/Save the Children
Children at one of Save the Children’s temporary learning spaces in Qayyara Airstrip IDP Camp, Iraq © Dario Bosio/DARST/Save the Children

CRITICAL IMPACT OF CONFLICT ON CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH AND PSYCHOSOCIAL WELLBEING

By Yasmine Sherif, Director, Education Cannot Wait, and Leslie Snider, Director MHPSS Collaborative for Children and Families

‘Suicide bombs, landmines, unexploded ordinance, air strikes and other forms of explosives account for three quarters of child deaths and injuries across the world’s deadliest war zones.’

Humanitarian emergencies and protracted crises currently affect millions of children around the world with serious consequences for their ability to learn, grow and develop. 420 million children – nearly one-fifth of children worldwide – are living in a conflict zone. Children are especially vulnerable in conflict situations, because a child’s experiences during the earliest years of life have a lasting impact on their physical and mental development.

Save the Children’s new research shows just how much bombs and explosives in the world’s worst war zones are hurting children both mentally, as well as physically. Suicide bombs, landmines, unexploded ordinance, air strikes and other forms of explosives account for three quarters of child deaths and injuries across the world’s deadliest war zones. Our research shows how children are uniquely injured and impacted by explosive weapons compared to adults, and that children exposed to explosive weapons are at increased risk of long-term physical and psychosocial disabilities and mental disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and agoraphobia.

For children in conflict, the combination of exposure to bombs and explosive weapons, grave violations of their human rights and chronic adversity, insecurity and deprivation can lead to ‘toxic stress.’ Furthermore, many children impacted by conflict do not have access to the protective environment of schools and to quality education. As a result, conflict imposes yet another significant cost on future generations and severely undermines the potential for peaceful, prosperous societies.

MENTAL HEALTH AND PSYCHO-SOCIAL SUPPORT IN AND THROUGH EDUCATION

Mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) for children in conflict is essential to overcome the impact of toxic stress and gives children the chance to develop to their full potential. Integrating MHPSS programming into the existing structures that support and protect children, such as educational systems, is essential to ensure children can access opportunities for healing, recovery and learning at larger scale. Education, delivered in safe, nurturing environments, is critically protective for children in conflict, and has the potential to support their healing and recovery.

LACK OF SERVICES AND SUPPORT EXACERBATE CHILDREN’S TRAUMA

However, the huge need borne from protracted crises and mass displacement are not being matched with funding and support to ensure the inclusion of MHPSS services

An 8-year-old refugee from Afrin in Syria now living in Iraq. Despite huge needs, mental health services for children affected by conflict are very limited, with just one psychologist per one million people in Iraq. © Panos/Save the Children, 2018
An 8-year-old refugee from Afrin in Syria now living in Iraq. Despite huge needs, mental health services for children affected by conflict are very limited, with just one psychologist per one million people in Iraq. © Panos/Save the Children, 2018

in emergency responses. Mental health care treatment gaps are greater than 90 per cent in the least resourced countries, and for child and family MHPSS, there is a lack of targeted, evidence-based programmes, workforce capacity and sustained funding.

THE OPPORTUNITY TO SCALE UP MHPSS FOR CHILDREN IN CRISIS: ECW AND THE MHPSS COLLABORATIVE

The MHPSS Collaborative for Children and Families, hosted by Save the Children, serves as a global platform for research, practice, learning and advocacy, that aims to build meaningful partnerships to address the critical MHPSS needs of children and families in fragile contexts at scale. Education Cannot Wait has partnered with the Collaborative in order to support the Global Education Cluster and other interagency partners to mainstream evidence-based, contextualized MHPSS into education in emergency programmes – closing the critical gap in treatment and providing safe and healing learning environments for the millions of children affected by conflict.

DEVELOPING AND DELIVERING A MINIMUM PACKAGE OF MHPSS SERVICES FOR EDUCATIONAL SETTINGS

There are practical actions all countries can take to provide the help that children affected by conflict need to make a full recovery. This must include ensuring there is the mental health support on the ground to help children recover both in the immediate aftermath, and through the crucial months afterwards.

Education Cannot Wait, together with the MHPSS Collaborative and its partners, are calling on governments, donors, private sector companies, philanthropic foundations and global leaders to support efforts to increase the provision and quality of MHPSS via education in emergencies with US$50 million in dedicated financing to be channeled through Education Cannot Wait over three years through 2021. Immediate additional funding for MHPSS services will ensure the development and demonstration of the UNICEF and WHO MHPSS ‘Minimum Service Package ‘ within education, and also support the implementation of the package in five Education Cannot Wait Multi-Year Resilience Programme countries between now and 2021.

The MHPSS Minimum Service Package will build capacity across the education sector to deliver lifesaving MHPSS for an estimated 9 million children by 2021, and ensure educational systems are effectively linked to health, protection and social services, ensuring a critical safety net for children and their caregivers. For the millions of children around the world exposed to bombs, explosive weapons, conflict, insecurity, and toxic stress, this support is urgently needed to ensure their learning and wellbeing.

For more information, read the full briefing Healing And Recovery Through Education In Emergencies

www.stopwaronchildren.org | #STOPTHEWARONCHILDREN

 

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT AND MHPSS COLLABORATIVE PARTNER TO DELIVER MENTAL HEALTH AND PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT TO CHILDREN CAUGHT UP IN THE WORLD’S WORST HUMANITARIAN CRISES

Education Cannot Wait, together with the MHPSS Collaborative and its partners, are calling on donors to support our efforts to increase the provision and quality of MHPSS via education in emergencies with $10 million in dedicated financing to be channeled through Education Cannot Wait. UN Photo/Martine Perret
Education Cannot Wait, together with the MHPSS Collaborative and its partners, are calling on donors to support our efforts to increase the provision and quality of MHPSS via education in emergencies with US$50 million in dedicated financing to be channeled through Education Cannot Wait over three years through 2021. UN Photo/Martine Perret

NEW PARTNERSHIP WILL SEE MORE AND BETTER SERVICES FOR THE MENTAL HEALTH AND PSYCHOSOCIAL WELL-BEING OF CHILDREN AFFECTED BY CONFLICT DELIVERED THROUGH EDUCATION

16 May 2019, The Hague – Today, at the Stop the War on Children Symposium in The Hague, Netherlands, Education Cannot Wait and the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) Collaborative launched a new partnership designed to mainstream mental health and psychosocial support for children and youth affected by wars and conflicts.

One in five of the world’s school-aged children live in countries affected by conflict. These girls and boys face increased risk of developing mental health and psychosocial problems due to the violence, trauma, fear and chronic adversity they experience. This combination may lead to “toxic stress” – a type of stress particularly damaging to a developing child’s brain architecture with potential lifelong impacts on children’s physical and mental health; their ability to grow, learn, develop; and their capacity to build the skills they need to become productive members of society.

Yet, in most conflict areas, there are few if any mental health and psychosocial support services specifically for children and adolescents, including a serious lack of capacity to care for children with higher level needs, such as developmental disability, exposure to traumatic events, or mental, neurologic and substance abuse disorders.

Dr. Leslie Snider and Yasmine Sherif at the Stop the War on Children Symposium. Photo Michael Corlin/ECW.
Dr. Leslie Snider and Yasmine Sherif at the Stop the War on Children Symposium. Photo Michael Corlin/ECW.

“Integrating MHPSS programming into the existing services that support and protect children, such as educational systems, is one way in which the service gap can be closed and by which we can ensure children can access opportunities for healing, recovery and learning,” said Dr. Leslie Snider, the Director of the MHPSS Collaborative.

With Education Cannot Wait expanding its investments in multi-year resilience education programmes to 25 priority crisis-affected countries in the next three years, the new partnership with the MHPSS Collaborative – a global platform for research, practice, learning and advocacy

for mental health and psychosocial support – has the potential to reach 9 million children annually by 2021.

“Education Cannot Wait is a global fund designed to ensure children caught up in crises have access to education and we’re committed to ensuring that the education they receive support them in healing,’ said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. “Our support to education takes a holistic approach to ensure children’s wellbeing. We can’t ask a child who is suffering from the horrors of war and the prolonged stress and insecurity of daily life in conflict zones to learn numeracy and literacy skills as if it was business as usual. Only by helping them cope with their experiences, heal and recover can we help them achieve quality learning outcomes.”

Integrating mental health and psychosocial support within education not only ensures safe and nurturing learning environments, it has also been demonstrated to improve academic outcomes for children.

Education Cannot Wait, together with the MHPSS Collaborative and its partners, are calling on donors to support our efforts to increase the provision and quality of MHPSS via education in emergencies with US$50 million in dedicated financing to be channeled through Education Cannot Wait over three years through 2021. This funding will enable the development and demonstration of a Minimum Service Package for mental health and psychosocial services within the education sector. Furthermore, it will support the implementation of the package in five Education Cannot Wait Multi-Year Resilience Programme countries by 2021, providing critical support to build back better educational systems linked with other care and protective services.

Stop the War Symposium Panel. Photo: The MPHSS Collaborative
Stop the War Symposium Panel. Photo: The MPHSS Collaborative

The new partnership will help build capacity across the education sector to deliver lifesaving mental health and psychosocial support and effectively link educational systems with health, protection and social services, ensuring a critical safety net for children and their caregivers.

The MHPSS Collaborative will support the mainstreaming of such services through Education Cannot Wait’s investments, in coordination with the Global Education Cluster and other relevant coordination mechanisms.

The Minimum Service Packages for MHPSS within education, health and protection sectors in humanitarian response is an initiative of UNICEF and WHO.

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Note to Editors:

For more information, read the full briefing Healing And Recovery Through Education In Emergencies

About Education Cannot Wait (ECW)

ECW is the first global fund dedicated to education in emergencies. It was launched by international humanitarian and development aid actors, along with public and private donors, to address the urgent education needs of 75 million children and youth in conflict and crisis settings. ECW’s investment modalities are designed to usher in a more collaborative approach among actors on the ground, ensuring relief and development organizations join forces to achieve education outcomes. Education Cannot Wait is hosted by UNICEF. The Fund is administered under UNICEF’s financial, human resources and administrative rules and regulations, while operations are run by the Fund’s own independent governance structure.

Additional information on ECW is available at www.educationcannotwait.org

For press enquiries, contact:
Anouk Desgroseilliers, adesgroseilliers@educationcannotwait.org , +1 917 640-6820

For any other enquiries, contact:
info@educationcannotwait.org

About the MHPSS Collaborative

The MHPSS Collaborative is a global platform for mental health and psychosocial support research, practice, learning and advocacy. We connect key academic and humanitarian actors with local civil society to give children and families in fragile circumstances the possibility to thrive, to learn and play, and to develop to their full potential. Based upon meaningful relationships and local realities and solutions, the collaborative: Convenes local to global stakeholders for MHPSS sharing, exchange, learning and innovation; Facilitates interagency MHPSS implementation science to promote innovation, quality and scale; Engages local communities of practice to lift learning from local MHPSS innovation to global exchange; Disseminates MHPSS knowledge, evidence and resources; and Champions the critical contribution of MHPSS to the recovery and survival of children and families in fragile contexts through evidence-based advocacy and policy.

For more information, contact: les@redbarnet.dk or cvt@redbarnet.dk or follow @MHPSSCollabora1 on Twitter