Mental health wellbeing for mothers and children

Mental health wellbeing for mothers and children

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to disrupt all aspects of life. In Gaza it has spread very quickly amongst communities, leaving severe economic, social and psychological effects, especially for persons with disabilities.

Through active programmes in Iraq with the widowed mother community and their orphaned children that we reported on last month, and Gaza that we report on below, we are supporting our partners to champion mental health. We have recently begun replicating this in Pakistan and Yemen which we will report on in due course.

The compulsory closure imposed on the Gaza Strip and the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic caused many feelings of fear, anxiety and confusion on children with disabilities and negatively impacted on their psychosocial well-being.

This was compounded by their due to the difficulty of their access to the advice, information, and awareness tips that are necessary to know in order to manage their feelings and control their fears during this crisis.

Working with our local partner Atfaluna Society we provided emergency assistance and psychosocial support to families of students with hearing disability in the Gaza Strip during the COVID-19 pandemic. This contributed to the emergency needs of families and to improve their psychosocial resilience. The work was ably supported at the LFT by Maria Pattinson, a Mental Health First Aid England trainer.

In the last three months of the year, a systematic series of individual and group psychosocial support sessions were carried out online with the participation of 220 children with hearing disabilities and their families (130 males and 90 females), which focused on child protection issues, family relations, how to manage time and daily routines, and how to express feelings in order to enhance their positive behaviours, abilities and cognitive skills, as well as improve their psychological resilience.

The psychologist specialist also provided individual psychological support sessions for (35 mothers and 7 fathers) in order to provide them with the necessary psychological support so that they are able to support their children’s needs, both psychological and social: “The efforts that you make during the psychological support sessions for my daughter are very wonderful because Maryam follows up her lessons daily and feels excited to participate in all online interactive activities and games.” Maryam’s Al-Hayya mother expressed.

In addition, a series of psychological support sessions were implemented consisting of 10 continuous sessions targeting 34 children with hearing disabilities presented several topics, including family relationships, effective communication, how to protect yourself from abuse, time management, problem-solving and life skills.

The sessions include opening activities, fun activities, feedback activities and closing activities, that help them recover from the effects of this crisis and enhance their abilities to return to normal life easily after the end of this stage: “The experience of online education and the provision of support sessions and interactive activities is full of surprises, as new methods were invented and the relations between students and their families promoted” Doaa Gazal, information technology teacher at Atfaluna school.”

We hear from Malak Khalfa, a quiet and shy child, 12 years old, with a hearing and physical disability. She always prefers to sit alone and does not easily interact with her peers.

The family was afraid of Malak’s participation in the activities for fear that she may be abused, despite the psychologist constant attempts to reassure her mother in this regard.

Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, Malak has been enrolled in psychological support activities and participated in the organised group support sessions.
Awareness-raising instructions and sessions were provided to her family, which strengthened their relationship with her, and her siblings began to participate with her in interactive activities and group support sessions. Parents were provided with a guide to appropriate activities to do at home.

Malak expressed her happiness and became very enthusiastic and asked her mother every day about the time of online activities and sessions.