Supporting the psychosocial needs of refugee children

Up to 40% of refugee children suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and mental health difficulties, including depression and anxiety, resulting from war-related trauma. This can often manifest in disruptive behaviour in schools and impair their ability to reason and overall capacity to learn. Furthermore, such refugee children can also struggle with social and emotional regulation, and find it challenging to form constructive relationships with teachers, other children and wider society.

When refugee children are better cared for and supported emotionally, especially by their family members, they are more likely to improve their mental health over time. Where family members are not available, or are themselves equally traumatised, there is a strong dependency on schools to provide such emotional support.

However, schools are rarely equipped with professionals who are capable of providing psychological and social healing for refugee children. It is therefore teachers who must be at the front line to make the educational environment safe and stable for the refugee children, offer them emotional support, and help these children learn how to develop caring relationships, build hope and self-esteem.

It is well-acknowledged that teachers in Lebanon are already inundated with the demands and stresses of providing a regular education to frequently unsettled children. Working with refugee children with diverse needs requires teachers to have additional emotional resilience, and therapeutic sensitivity which will not only support these children’s learning outcomes and healing, but also help enhance teachers’ effectiveness and their well-being.

HWH Training for Lebanese and Syrian teachers working with refugee children

We are proposing a focused programme that will enhance teachers’ ability to connect and respond sensitively to the psycho-social needs of refugee children, resulting in improved learning outcomes and increased well-being of the children and their communities. It will support teachers working with refugee children of all ages. The training would be part of the teachers’ personal and professional development to be delivered through a series of experiential workshops aiming to:

  • enhance teachers’ capacity to set up safe and stable educational environment
  • develop teachers’ greater emotional resilience and psycho-social sensitivity to
  • support refugee children’s social relational development
  • support teachers’ holistic well-being
  • strengthen the school as a community to better integrate the refugee children
  • build a community of practices for ongoing personal and professional development

This programme has been designed, developed and refined by the CLS over the past 5 years. We envisage a training programme for up to 200 teachers in the first year, which would have a direct impact on the lives of 50,000 refugee children and their communities.

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Healing the Wounds of History

Through the transformative potential of narrative and storying in social healing, HWH Programmes aim to address the deeper causes of violence.