New helplines providing psychosocial support to parents and children
The helpline 078 378 728 for adolescents and their parents and the helpline 070291574 for parents of children with disabilities will operate between 9:00 and 16:00 every working day.
The helpline 072912676 for children at school age and parents of preschool and school age children will operate between 9:00 and 19:00 every working day.
SKOPJE, 26 March 2020 – In collaboration with the Ministry of Health and in partnership with the University Clinic of Psychiatry UNICEF today introduced two new helplines providing mental health and psychosocial support to adolescents and their parents and parents of children with disabilities impacted by the crisis with COVID 19.
This is an additional support to the already established helpline by the University Clinic of Psychiatry for parents of pre-school and school children, which is now also open for school age children themselves.
“We want to encourage parents and children to discuss their questions and concerns. It is normal that they may experience different reactions to COVID 19 as it is normal to struggle to maintain sense of normalcy at home,” said Patrizia Di Giovanni, UNICEF Representative. “In this situation, children and adolescents may feel sad, isolated or even angry. The helplines will offer support to parents to ease the prolonged distress and help children and adolescents to build resilience for coping with stressful situations, especially as we break routines and have to stay at home more.”
In addition to immediate health concerns, crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, can cause wider impacts on children and their families, such as anxiety and fear of the unknown. The main purpose of establishing the new services is to ensure counselling and support is available in order to prevent secondary impacts of the outbreak including neglect and lack of parental care and increased exposure to violence.
“Apart from acting responsibly to be safe from the virus, we need to make sure we are safe from the secondary negative impacts that the pandemic may have on our mental health. Continuous stress and anxiety may have significant impact on our brains and ability to cope. It is of immense importance to take our own and our children’s wellbeing and mental health seriously and seek support,” said Venko Filipce, Minister of Health.
“The current pandemic of the COVID-19 virus increases our awareness about the importance of our own health care and the heath care of our children. But besides physical health, in such conditions it is especially important to pay attention to our mental health care, to develop resilience and family connections, and to use this unfortunate situation as an opportunity to improve our well-being and the wellbeing of young people,” said professor Stojan Bajraktarov, Director of the University Clinic of Psychiatry.
UNICEF is working with the experts from the University Psychiatric Clinic to make available informative videos, Q&A sessions and podcasts to help parents and children better cope with anxiety and fear due to COVID 19 and focus on their wellbeing.
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 www.unicef.mk.