UNICEF calls for immediate mental health support in schools

11 May 2023
school environment

Skopje, 10 May 2023: Concerned by reports of the growing number of children who experience anxiety and fear, UNICEF together with representatives from the Ministry of Education and Science and the Bureau for Development of Education today met with a team of mental health professionals and experts to discuss immediate actions to provide additional support to children in the last six weeks of this school year.

According to UNICEF studies, there has been a growing number of children who experience anxiety. Professionals and experts at the meeting confirmed that anxiety and stress among children is becoming a more serious concern particularly after the recent wave of school bomb threats in the country and after being exposed to news of the tragic event in the school in neighboring Serbia.

In addition to recognizing the need for a whole society approach to ensure schools are and remain a safe place for all children and to provide counseling and support to children in all settings, partners agreed that immediate action is needed in the coming weeks.

According to UNICEF, the mental health needs of children and young people cannot be ignored. Additional immediate mental health support is needed for children and young people in schools. To facilitate this, UNICEF calls on school management to ensure that school support staff including psychologists, pedagogues and special educators are empowered and fully dedicated to support children and colleagues in the last six weeks of this school year.

Furthermore, when dealing with matters affecting children, the best interest of all children must be central to any decision-making by the community and the government. This includes ensuring that the responsibility of identifying and supporting children who are struggling with mental health issues should remain with the professionals working in the system and the burden should not be placed on children to identify and report.

UNICEF also urges members of the public and the media to promote prevention and restorative approach to dealing with matters of violence among children rather than seeking out punitive measures and policies and to refrain from using stigmatizing terminology when referring to children. Preventing all forms of violence and mental health challenges requires a whole society approach that focuses on prevention, building resilience, promoting positive mental wellbeing and providing specialized support when needed. This includes ensuring parents have access to parenting programmes; schools are equipped to provide a safe and nurturing learning environment and that children have access to mental health services and support; and targeted response services are available for all children in need of specialized support.

UNICEF stands ready to support the Government of North Macedonia and all other relevant partners in their efforts to address all forms of violence and mental health challenges faced by children and young people.

Media contacts

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


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.

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