Psycho-social support for children and school staff in protracted conflict situations

Question

What has worked/hasn't worked in helping children and young people (boys and girls) to protect and promote their well-being and that of others by, for example, identifying risks and responses to stress, and how their impact can be managed or mitigated? (Well-being is understood to include physical safety, mental resilience, ability to maintain social relations, and a continuing capacity to learn)

What are considered to be the core, essential components of psycho-social support and social and emotional learning? What distinctions should be made between activities that can be carried out in schools, during school hours and by regular teachers and activities that should be undertaken out of school, or after school in recreational or child-friendly spaces or school clubs, and/or conducted by trained specialists?

Summary

Whilst the provision of psychosocial activities is regularly mentioned in documents referring to the humanitarian response to education, there is a dearth of literature that refers to exactly what these programmes consist of, and how effective they are. There is, however, widespread recognition of the importance of providing psycho-social interventions to counter the impact of traumatisation on children and youth’s well-being and mental health, which can manifest in depression, shame, withdrawal or aggression. Whilst it is now widely accepted that early psychosocial interventions must be an integral part of humanitarian assistance, there is widespread recognition that there remains a need to build a stronger evidence for such work. Reports suggest more extensive and robust evaluations are required to develop a better understanding of what approaches to psycho-social support are the most effec­tive, and in which situations. Further research is necessary to understand the importance of contextual factors in promoting or inhibiting resilience in and through education systems. There is a paucity of studies that focus on youth and adolescents, and the inclusion of vulnerable groups. Further studies on outcome differences based on gender are also required. Although this report addresses the two questions separately, there are overlaps between the two which resulted in some of the detail for the second question being covered in the sections addressing the first.

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Suggested citation

Mattingly J. (2017). Approaches to providing psycho-social support for children, teachers and other school staff, and social emotional learning for children and young people in protracted conflict situations. K4D Helpdesk Report. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.