Children’s mental wellbeing is often neglected and our mission is to integrate mental wellbeing into the school curriculum to hold space for children from different backgrounds to discuss mental wellbeing. By integrating mental wellbeing sessions in schools, we increase the access to care and increase mental health literacy. In the long term, this program will teach children how to communicate their feelings with their peers and will enable generational knowledge exchange.
Children’s Road to Lifelong Mental Wellbeing
Our project is called "Children’s Road to Lifelong Mental Wellbeing", and focuses on developing self-awareness and resilience through mental health literacy.
The challenge we want to tackle is children’s mental wellbeing. Children’s mental wellbeing is often neglected -- for example, in the OECD brief about mental health, children were not even mentioned. This is despite overwhelming evidence that childhood experiences massively impact the risk of developing mental health disorders in adulthood and that children’s mental health starts to decline around age 11. Also, polarization in communities can lead to the isolation of children and the stigma surrounding mental health and wellbeing adds additional dimensions to this challenge. It’s also more difficult for children to express their mental health needs leading to inaccessibility to mental health services.
We were inspired by the Friendship Bench project founded by Dixon Chibanda. We want to integrate mental wellbeing into the school curriculum to hold space for children from different backgrounds to discuss mental wellbeing facilitated by self-selected teachers and community members.These sessions focus on mindfulness, gratitude, emotional intelligence, reducing stereotyping & coping with uncertainty. We want to educate these facilitators in mental wellbeing through a digital companion. We will safeguard facilitators by encouraging them to check in with each other after each session, and to get in touch with the initiative coordinators. This way, children learn how to manage their mental wellbeing and develop a lifelong skill set to manage mental wellbeing. We believe that with our team and our joint experience in youth mental health and policy making, we can make this happen.
In terms of impact, making a small shift to a child’s mindset or coping ability early in life can drastically change their trajectory into adulthood. By integrating mental wellbeing sessions in schools, we increase the access to care and increase mental health literacy. In the long term, this program will teach children how to communicate their feelings with their peers and to overcome differences in their backgrounds to connect with each other on a human level. This will reduce the risk of future mental illness and improve the happiness index. Finally, this program will enable generational knowledge exchange and raise awareness about mental wellbeing, thereby reducing the stigma.
This initiative demonstrates responsible leadership in action by promoting resiliency, self-awareness and empowerment among children. In addition, we build empathetic communities and reduce polarisation through open communication. This initiative cultivates the skills of current and future community leaders by training them in mental health literacy. And finally, it links to multiple SDGs such as 4, 5, 10, and 16.