Since we started five years ago, our main focus has been solving problems linked to the physical health of children in the global south – for and with children aged 10-14. To this end we have developed resources and supported the implementation of a programmes in Mozambique, Nigeria and India. We have helped strengthen their approach to promoting child and young adolescent participation and empowerment in their public health and education programming.
There is a growing interest in our methodology linked to the empowerment of young adolescents; particularly in academic circles.
There is a growing interest globally in adolescent well-being (and mental health as it’s called) and this includes the UK and the USA.
Well-being issues (and the lack of attention to these issues) profoundly affects the ability of those children we reach to be or become effective health activists and/or to function effectively within families and communities affected by mental health issues and depressive disorders. We therefore consider this focus to be foundational to the work we do on physical health. We have touched on the area adolescent of well-being and resilience in the Safe Strong and Smiling programme with those coping with the Ebola crisis and its aftermath in Sierra Leone and we aim to build upon this experience.
Since the beginning of the year, Children for Health has been looking at the work of Sarah Newton and working with her to adapt her model of adolescent behaviour change and development. We have been discussing ideas around establishing a set of minimum standards for schools (everywhere) in order to promote better well-being at their school. We have also been looking at the work of the video game expert, Jane McGonagall (Super Better) who has developed sets of evidence-based tools and tactics to boost social, emotion, mental and physical resilience. Although the world of gaming is the source of her knowledge and inspiration, there are many off-line adaptations of her tactics that could be tried out in resource-constrained settings.
We have been in touch with Teen Mental Health – an organisation that has adapted a Canadian model for prompting mental health literacy in school in Malawi and Tanzania with good results. We have had a meeting with two leaders of this work to understand the scope of their integrated approach to promoting Mental Health Literacy.
We feel that the time is right for Children for Health explore and co-create some simple messages and materials for educators to use with young adolescents to raise awareness of mental health and to give children tools and tactics to use to boost their emotional and social resilience and prevent mental health related illnesses.
To develop resources for educators on adolescent well being and resilience, to include:
- A set of 10 core topics (for children to learn and share)
- A set of 100 messages focussed on ‘mental’ vs. physical health (for children to learn and share)
- A set of key activities, tools and tactics for educators to promote well-being and resilience.
- A poster visualising a fictitious ‘well being school’ (working title).
- A storybook that weaves in the key messages and approaches.