Improving children’s mental health and wellbeing in Sri Lanka
Batticaloa in the Eastern region of Sri Lanka was one of the areas hard hit by the long civil war which ended in 2009 and the tsunami in 2004. Children’s Clubs, established by BasicNeeds and our partners, were set up to provide children with a way of coping with the many problems they face in the aftermath of conflict and natural disaster: family breakdown, alcohol and drug misuse, domestic violence and absent parents. Problems at home cause children to underperform at school and teachers are not adequately trained or equipped to recognise or deal with mental distress.
How we work
Improving children’s lives through clubs
Children’s Clubs provide a space where children (aged 10 – 18) can relax, play, be with others, make friends and learn new skills. Using a child-to-child approach where children are trained by professionals in: how to run a group (leadership skills, taking minutes, book-keeping); how to organise social and cultural events (sports meetings, traditional dancing, street dramas); and the basics of mental health support such as psychological first aid and conflict management.
Rashmi, a daughter of two ex-child soldiers, and member of a Children’s Club remarks: "Before I joined the club, I was very aggressive. I even quarreled with my sister and grandmother. If someone was only a little rude I started to fight with them, and most times it ended with me hurting them…Now I'm the Head Prefect of the school… I was first in the class in last term’s examinations…” Read the full story here.
Building the capacity of adults to support children
Teachers, parents and government education officials also receive training in how to recognise signs of unhappiness, underperformance and mental distress in children and how best to support them at home, or in a child-friendly way at school.
How you can help
Over the last three years, BasicNeeds and our partners have worked hard to set up and support these Children’s Clubs, and train the adults around them. To date, 26 Children’s Clubs have been established and are run by children themselves, the majority based in schools in very remote locations. Read our achievements here.
Our focus this year is to make the Clubs sustainable, i.e. properly embedded in, and supported by, the local community. If we are successful the children will be able to run their own Clubs, supporting each other to become resilient and healthy members of the community; with the adults around them providing a safe and supportive environment for them at home and in school.
We’ve raised some of the funds to make this happen, but need your help.
- $30 will fund a training session for 24 children on mental health awareness and group work skills.
- $50 will fund a training session for 20 parents on mental health awareness and creating a better and safer environment for their children at home.
- $100 will fund a training programme for 7 teachers on mental health awareness and appropriate teaching practices.
Together we can improve lives for children who are - every day - dealing with the impact of conflict and disaster.