Building personal resilience and mental health of social protection frontline workers

Social welfare professionals working with children and families were introduced to techniques and mechanisms to cope with stressors and increase personal resilience

01 August 2022

Skopje, 29 July 2022: In partnership with the University Clinic of Psychiatry, UNICEF kicked off a series of workshops to provide frontline workers in social welfare services with knowledge, tools and techniques to foster mental wellbeing and build resilience in a context of prolonged exposure to stressors.

The first workshop gathered psychologists, social workers, pedagogues and other professionals from the Centers for Social Work from Skopje, Tetovo, Kumanovo and Shtip as well as professionals from the Institute for Social Activities.

Resilience can be defined as the ability to navigate changing circumstances successfully. It is a constructive skill that goes beyond simply surviving, accepting or resigning oneself to what may be a difficult situation. This is a behavioural process to address adversity in an active and conscious way, with awareness to mental health and wellbeing. 

“We support child protection experts, social workers, psychologists, speech therapists, special educators to foster children's resilience in the face of adversities and their capacity to hope for – and build – a better future. In doing so they need to take care of their own mental health and wellbeing.  Building resilience at the personal level will consequently reach systemic resilience which is a key for delivering quality social protection services to all children and families during crisis and beyond,” said Patrizia DiGiovanni, UNICEF Representative.

The major themes of the training include: how to become resilient to stress and  trauma; the impact, effect and outcome of stress on frontline workers; seeking help for ourselves and others; personal and professional wellness; and how to develop programmes for resilience-building and personal and professional wellness.

It is expected that some 112 social welfare professionals will participate in two-day workshops followed by a training of trainers who will transfer the knowledge to all social welfare and child protection professionals in the country.

During the training, in an atmosphere of confidence and safe space, professionals shared personal and professional experiences of stress and trauma and were interested in how to build resilience mechanisms. Many mentioned that they feel the need of increased professional support at work in times of change, that on daily bases they are dealing with the most complex cases of abuse, loss, adversities and poverty, and experience emotional exhaustion from difficult cases for which they have no coping mechanisms.

The next training sessions will include employees and management from the Centers for Social Work and the Institute for Social Activities and will cover all regions in the country. In addition, mentoring sessions are envisaged to support sharing knowledge across professionals. 

 The training material was developed by the New York City Health and Hospitals (HERO-NY)  and adapted to the local context by national mental health professionals.  The same education training was implemented for health workers across South Eastern Europe, and conducted by the SEE Health Network, supported by the Project HOPE.

This initiative is part of UNICEF’s broader support to the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and the Institute for Social Activities with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development.  

Media contacts

Suzie Pappas Capovska
Tel: (02) 3231-244
Irina Ivanovska
Tel: (02) 3231-172


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