Children in Yemen suffer from high levels of anxiety due to the traumatic events of war and ongoing armed conflicts beginning in 2015. Children rarely receive psychological support from school or family, largely due to the lack of psychological services in schools, the scarcity of psychological care institutions, and lack of knowledge among parents regarding the symptoms of anxiety and ways to help their children. This situation negatively affects Yemeni children’s psychological stability, increases anxiety, and affects overall psychological, mental, and physical development in both childhood and adolescence. Moreover, behavioral and cognitive problems appear at school and at home, affecting their ability to focus and learn, as well as their relationships with others in their community.
46 % of the Yemeni population are children under the age of 15. This group in particular suffers disproportionate amounts of war trauma, depression, and anxiety, along with multiple psychological and behavioral problems. We believe there is no peace in Yemen until the mental health of the younger generations, including children and adolescents, is addressed.
Therefore in 2021, “Bridges to Peace and Solidarity” sought, with its partner “Action for Child Trauma International”, to implement the “Anxiety Reduction and Promoting Resilience Program”. Targeting teachers and mental health workers in Yemeni schools and childcare centers, this program includes three training days, and 15 training hours. Originally implemented in three provinces, the goal is to extend this program to other provinces within Yemen’s borders.
During training, teachers and mental health workers learn how they can safely help children, in both individual and group settings, to understand anxiety symptoms and anxiety reduction techniques. They also acquire the skills to enhance children’s psychological resilience and to help them cope with difficult life circumstances throughout their developmental stages.
Once qualified, the participants will implement a training program inside schools and childcare centers. The program will consist of 5 sessions (60-80 minutes), one session per week. Then, there will be a sixth session, after several weeks, to follow up on the progress of the children and their families. In addition, there will be two sessions conducted for parents to increase awareness and improve their understanding of psychological problems, and how they can help their children overcome these obstacles.
The psychological tools offered by this program are scientific tools based on the methods of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and they have been addressed in the program in simplified ways through stories, activities, and games that are compatible with the ages of the children involved.
The work of the participants is supervised by Dr. Kawkab Alwadeai, Dr. Gamhoor Alhumidi in Taiz, and Dr. Abdu Hakim Bin Break in Hadramout.