Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) Approaches - Turkey Syrian, Iraqi and Turkish children, youth, and adolescents.

Turkey hosts a large refugee population, with over 3.6 million Syrian refugees and close to 400,000 refugees and asylum seekers of other nationalities. According to UNHCR "Close to 1.4 million refugees in Turkey are under 15 years old, and over 800,000 are aged between 15 and 24." Refugee children exposed to conflict, violence, and/or traumatic events face severe distress, resulting in a long-term effect on mental health and psychosocial problems.

Since 2017, RET has provided Psychosocial Support (PSS) to Syrian, Iraqi and Turkish children, youth, and adolescents through a threefold mechanism:

1) PSS activities through recreational, life skills, and educational drama activities.
2) Individual or Group PSS Counselling activities.
3) Emotional Support Groups (ESG).

In this approach, RET used kinaesthetic and auditory stimulants, such as dance and music, which positively impacted children's and adolescents' counseling and helped them think and express themselves more effectively.

RET PSS programs organized in "protection centers and safe spaces" for children, adolescents, youth, and adults in Turkey, have helped promote the participants' psychosocial mental health and well-being.

RET benefited more than 39'884 individuals, including Turkish, Syrian, and Iraqi children, adolescents, and youth...

PSS activities through recreational, life skills, and educational drama activities

RET PSS programs have included multiple models and curriculums for different age groups to help targeted participants restore and maintain their emotional and social well-being. RET meaningfully engaged children and youth in recreational activities following the PSS sessions in a welcoming and safe environment at the centers. Activities included crafts, music, theatre, creative drama, game-based learning, and sports. Gender-based Violence (GBV) training for the staff to identify, prevent, and respond to GBV, in tandem with awareness among the participants, were fundamental during the activities' implementation.

Individual and Group PSS Counseling activities

Individual psychosocial counseling was provided to children facing adversities, including those at risk and/or survivors of gender-based violence and youth experiencing psychological distress. Also, RET provided psychosocial group counseling to children with close age range sharing related quandaries. The group counseling proposed psychological therapy sessions targetting groups of participants struggling to cope with their existing care network and performing poorly academically. Group counseling took place in a safe environment allowing participants to seek individual expert assistance when needed in a non-stigmatizing environment.

The individual counseling sessions focused not only on psychosocial well-being. Still, they included social and emotional learning, such as self-awareness and self-management (personal problems, self-respect, behavioral problems, anger management) and social-awareness and relationship skills. Cases of violence and/or severe psychological distress were referred by RET psychosocial counselors to case management organizations and specialized services such as psychiatric assistance, ensuring a holistic and appropriate response.

Emotional Support Groups (ESG)

RET conducted emotional support groups with young girls and boys who were survivors of gender-based violence. The emotional support groups conducted by RET, followed the same methodology as the group counseling but were explicitly designed for GBV survivors and were facilitated by an expert psychologist. Multiple groups were launched using specific activities and techniques to improve their coping mechanism and emotional well-being. (e.g., knitting group, balloon group, toys-role group, life-line group, circle group, cooking group, singing group, dance group, and psychodrama group.) The emotional support groups provided the participants with a safe platform to share their experiences, facilitated the development of support networks, and strengthened their problem-solving skills and emotional well-being.

RET in Turkey created a nurturing, safe environment through its centers to protect and provide the fundamental conditions for children's and adolescent's optimal development.

In supporting Turkey's refugee response, RET worked in partnership with public institutions at the national, provincial, and local levels, including municipalities, national and international non-governmental organizations, the United Nations agencies as with refugees and host communities.

RET offers mental health and psychosocial support to children, adolescents, caregivers, and families through various interventions adapted to address priority problems and meet the local context's needs.

RET works worldwide to strengthen young people and their families' resilience and help them overcome multi-dimensional adversities during and after a crisis.

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