UNICEF launches Handbooks to help 1 million children overcome psychological distress
September 27th (Nyamilepedia)-The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has officially launched two handbooks, designed to help children recover from stress, anxiety and trauma.
According to a new report released on Thursday, the UN children’s agency, projected that nearly one million children in South Sudan are psychologically distressed as a result of a five-year conflict characterized by violence, forced recruitment and mass displacement.
The booklet contains activities related to children, as well as practical advice on how to build coping mechanisms for traumatized children and more importantly, it will help facilitators working in friendly space centers learn how stress works and how to manage it at an early stage.
“Helping children coping with their traumas is unlocking their potential,” said Dr. Mohamed Ag Ayoya, UNICEF Representative in South Sudan.
He explained that stress is a life-threatening health condition that prevents children from carrying out activities of daily living and that if left untreated, it often has a negative impact on their learning.
“Stress and anxiety can ruin childhoods by affecting children’s ability to study, socialize and develop. With appropriate help, children can learn to live with their past experiences and turn into productive young people who can help rebuild their nation.”
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said it is planning to distribute booklets to children all over the country in an effort to reach all affected children in their homes without leaving any one behind.
“By making the handbook available across the country, UNICEF and its partners are moving the assistance closer to where the children are.”
The report also noted that mothers and caregivers are also trapped in this psychological situation because they are the primary caregivers who are always struggling to support their children.
The Second Handbook released by UNICEF was designed to mitigate the effects of traumas on girls previously associated with armed groups, so that it can transform their way of thinking.
“Girls used by armed forces and armed groups is another vulnerable group of children who need support transitioning back to a civilian life and cope with often difficult experiences. UNICEF has developed in collaboration with its partners a practical guide for reintegration of these girls into the communities.”
The two handbooks – “Practical Guide for The Socio-Economic Reintegration of Girls Formerly Associated with Armed Forces and Armed Groups” and “the Facilitator’s Manual for Psychosocial Support Activities in Child Friendly Spaces, Schools and Communities” – were developed in collaboration with the Technical Working Groups in South Sudan on Psychosocial Support, on Children associated with armed forces and armed groups (CAAFAG) and on Mental Health and PSS (MHPSS) and with Child Soldier International.
“When we are developing tools for the future we need the experience of our many partners on the ground to ensure these handbooks and guides will have the impact we are aiming for,” said Mohamed Ayoya.
Adding: “Children’s mental health is an area of great concern. I am glad we have all hands-on deck through partners and the child protection cluster, as the country’s future depends on healthy children.”