Free seminars help refugee parents support their children’s mental wellbeing
The National Institute of Mental Health with the support of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO) is launching a series of free seminars to support the psychological well-being of refugee parents from Ukraine.
Children who have lived through or are fleeing war might experience anxiety, stress or even trauma. Their parents play an important role in creating a safe environment where they feel safe and regain a sense of stability. Parents fleeing war in Ukraine have been facing enormous challenges related to finding safety, settling in a new country, learning a new language, as well as helping their children coping with these sudden changes and adapting to their new life in the Czech Republic.
"The aim of the seminars is to provide parents from Ukraine with a safe environment where they can share their experiences with other parents and establish new friendships. During the seminars, parents will learn techniques and tips to support their children in challenging situations and build their psychological resilience. Through this programme, we want to motivate parents to take care of their own mental health, as this will also support their children's mental health," explains Yulia Oleinik, head of UNICEF Refugee Response in the Czech Republic
The experience of war and an uncertain future
In order to make the seminars as beneficial as possible, NUDZ experts researched the challenges parents from Ukraine living in the Czech Republic most often face. "Mothers from Ukraine living in the Czech Republic are mostly on their own and cannot share this responsibility directly and on a daily basis with their husbands or partners who have stayed behind in Ukraine. Children and their parents might struggle with integration. Mothers and therefore find it challenging to cope with everyday situations. Added to this are the lived experiences of war, worries about loved ones left behind and the challenges of long-distance relationships." says Anna Kagstromm from the National Institute of Mental Health.
"The aim of the seminars is to raise parents' awareness of mental health issues, the most common reactions children have to stressful events and how to address them. Parents will get information on how to manage, for example, sleep problems, nightmares or panic attacks. "There will be practical tips on how to look after the mental health of themselves and you’re their children. Relaxation techniques are important to help parents manage stressful situations. They will also learn where to find help in each region," says říká Roksolana Kulchynska, WHO Health Operations Officer.
The project also helps teachers and students across the country
The seminars are part of a comprehensive project focusing on the mental health of children and adolescents. "Approximately one in seven children struggle with mental health problems. Mental health in schools has not received much attention until recently. However, the war in Ukraine has highlighted this need, with almost 40,000 children from Ukraine currently enrolled in Czech primary schools. In addition to the traumatic experiences associated with war and displacement, these children face a language barrier. For these reasons, only less than two-fifths of them participate in leisure activities," explains Petr Winkler, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health.
The seminars will take place on 14 June in Prague, with further dates and locations added later. Interested parties can register for free via the form on the website https://dzda.cz/ .
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit https://www.unicef.org/eca/.