The importance of social and emotional development is seen in every part of a child's life. A child will have a strong foundation for later development if he or she can manage personal feelings, understand others' feelings and needs, and interact positively with others.
This is just as relevant in international settings as in the UK, if not more so, where children are facing much higher risks to their stable psychosocial state. Developing countries are allocating limited budgets to mental health services when 15% of all illnesses are mental health related. A third of the world’s population are children and there is a huge need to address these issues early on. Fragility of conflict has left many children with post-traumatic stress disorder. Cultural expectations can also prevent people accessing limited services. For example, in Gaza, mental health services have been known to turn young women away as this would affect their ability to marry, even though they may be suffering from mental health issues.
So bearing all this in mind, what is Muslim Aid doing to help young children? Muslim Aid’s Rainbow Family Child Support Programme aims to build wellbeing into children before they become adults. Then if they are faced with vulnerability they will not go into psychosocial disability.
We have started with the basics, ensuring all children get to go to school. Children who are forced to leave school lose their peer networks and the opportunity to play, two elements of a child’s life which contribute to combating psychosocial issues.
The Rainbow Family is also working to strengthen our mentoring programme for children and to provide specialist care for the children who are really struggling. Joining the Rainbow Family and supporting a child will allow them to remain in school, surrounded by the best support network anyone can offer.