If you saw our earlier post about the Covered, Clean and Caring Covid-prevention campaign we designed for schools and orphan and vulnerable children centres, you’ll know that in 2022 it evolved to focus on mental health.
So many children suffered loss and trauma during the pandemic, and research showed that stigma, as well as social and cultural barriers, made it difficult for them to find the help they needed.
That’s why UNICEF, which initiated the campaign, asked us to take it a step further by encouraging communities to acknowledge and support people whose mental health had suffered.
This time, our “three Cs” were Check, Connect and Care, and we put together a facilitation guide to support community-level conversations and encourage adults as well as youth to feel comfortable discussing mental health and confident about seeking and providing help.
To begin with, Partners in Development fieldworkers helped to facilitate community dialogues. People who attended were then encouraged to lead more discussions themselves, using what they had learnt.
We trained some of the facilitators in person and made a training video for those who couldn’t attend. Videos made at pilot community dialogues were shown on the UNICEF truck that tours areas in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and Limpopo where the campaign was concentrated.
Parents who attended the dialogues say they now have a better understanding of their children’s struggles and have learnt how to support them in an appropriate and compelling way. And a child who attended said: “The campaign really assisted us because now we can be able to talk about our problems openly, which is something that was very hard to do.”
All the materials can be downloaded on the UNICEF website. The community handout is also available in isiXhosa.