World Mental Health Day 2021
We wanted to share with you the work happening in schools around the world this year to promote positive mental health for children using the Skills for Life programmes.
On World Mental Health Day, 10 October, it will have been more than 18 months since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In some countries, life is returning to some semblance of normality; in others, rates of transmission and hospital admissions remain high, disrupting the lives of families and communities.
In all countries, the pandemic has had a major impact on people’s mental health. For some children, it’s been an anxious and lonely time when they’ve missed their classmates and couldn’t go and play with friends. For others, it’s been a positive experience, spending more time with their family. And many parents now appreciate, more than ever, what their children’s teachers do!
Partnership for Children - UK
In the UK, as in other countries, the pandemic has pushed us into learning fast and adapting the way we deliver Skills for Life programmes. We learnt about Zoom so we could provide training online. More and more teachers now download Skills for Life programmes digitally, rather than using printed folders, so we worked to provide materials via our website, and we’ve organised webinars to share best practice. The positive side of this is that we’re able to reach teachers more teachers than ever, all over the country. And our Covid-19 Wellbeing Resources, now translated into 7 languages, have been a great success, much used by families stuck at home.
Vaiko Labui – Lithuania
Today, more than ever, children need help learning how to overcome emotional difficulties. Characters of the Skills for Life programmes the stick insect Zippy, hamster Apple and little dragon Elly teach children how to cope with loneliness, isolation, anxiety and other depressing emotions and how to help friends when they are having a tough time. We are glad to have been able to bring these programmes to Lithuanian schools for more than 20 years. Ona Monkeviciene, Programme Expert, has noticed a change in attitude of teachers and parents towards wanting to support children's emotional wellbeing. ‘The small stick insect Zippy can make a big difference!’ she says.
Educa Santé - Belgium
As it was impossible to use the Skills for Life programmes in classes during the lockdowns, Educa Santé has supported children to find healthy ways to deal with their feelings and reactions to the Covid-19 situation by translating the resources produced by Partnership for Children. We disseminated them widely to teachers and the parents, with the recommendation to use them with children to give them the best chance to stay mentally healthy.
Fédération Départementale des Foyers Ruraux de Charente Maritime – France
From this morning, as wearing a mask is no longer mandatory in primary classes, we rediscover the smiles of the children. Classes will start with Zippy and Apple session 0 before the holidays.
Animus Association - Bulgaria
Raising difficult topics at school helps parents to have more candid and helpful conversations with their children, on issues that are often overlooked as banal or obvious. Some topics are painful and therefore avoided, which makes it difficult for children afterwards when they encounter them surprisingly and traumatically. Parents say they need advice on how to reach their children's problems and trust them, and homework from the Skills for Life programs helps them.
Children often share: "Zippy is our favorite!"
And according to teachers, this is "The most anticipated hour for children".
Parents shared - "My son keeps telling me about Zippy."
Voksne for Barn - Norway
Finally back, training staff at schools and promoting good mental health! Both Zippy’s friends and Passport are vital in Norwegian schools to make sure all students make the transition back after the pandemic as well as possible. Håvard Sveberg and Christian Hansen are currently travelling all over Norway, training staff at Zippy and Passport schools.
Premier Academy - Kenya
We keep a phone to allow the children and even some of the adults to have closure with their loved ones. They are give time to "talk" with them about things or moments they really wish they could have had. With the pandemic and alot of sudden deaths, this has helped the children say some a goodbye.
Shazma Mukri- Lead School Counsellor, Premier Academy
E-Clinic – Czech Republic
Thanks to Zippy and Apple's Friends, we have been able to help over 7500 children in the Czech Republic to learn how to cope with difficult situations in their life. E-clinic, www.zipyhokamaradi.cz
ASEC Brasil - Movimento Saber Lidar - Brasil
Building a fair and healthy world means investing in mental health promotion for children! In Brazil, more than 354 thousand children and adolescents have already participated in the Zippy’s, Apple Friends, and Passport Skills for Life programmes.
Knowing how to deal positively with feelings and with life's challenges is a key factor in adult mental health, and that is why we are constantly striving to increase access to evidenced programmes for more children!
FEPADE - El Salvador
As teachers, we have to rethink education to face a new society in which in person teaching is replaced by “online training” and traditional games and physical activities are transformed into video games. We are facing a gap of human contact, affectivity, change in values and a new generation that demands other forms of learning.
Positive socio-emotional relationships between students and teachers are crucial to improve learning. A classroom with a positive environment generates trust, greater participation and the perception of support, collaboration and intimacy, where learning becomes more significant”. (Lorena Medina, Educar Group).
Alex Panton Foundation - Grand Cayman
The APF mission is to offer inclusive mental health prevention for all our children, regardless of ability or need. In 2019, APF launched Zippy’s (mainstream and SEND) and Apple’s friends in the Cayman Islands reaching 472 children in 8 schools with 21 teachers trained to deliver the programmes as part of the classroom curriculum. By 2020, the number of children rose to 2500, across 21 schools with 150 of teachers trained. The programmes have also been recognized by the Cayman Islands Ministry of Education as an important part of the recovery curriculum for schools after extended school closures in response to COVID-19.