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Children International Tests Mental Health Curriculum

Young boy smiling at his teacher.

Depression, anxiety and stress are issues that can affect anyone regardless of their socioeconomic status. However, kids in poverty are particularly vulnerable given the adversity they face on a daily basis. Identifying this concern, Children International has partnered with Turning Point: A Community Resource of The University of Kansas Health System to implement a curriculum that teaches kids how to be resilient and maintain good mental health.

Children International first tested the curriculum late last year in Mexico, where mental health was recognized as a priority health issue. The curriculum teaches kids the 10 facets of resilience, which include how to self-calm, stay optimistic and seek out social support. These are taught through a variety of activities that allow kids to express themselves in creative ways – drawing, writing, storytelling and movement, to name a few.

Why the focus on creative expression when teaching kids resilience? Stefanie Hinman, an art therapist from Turning Point, explains, "Creative expression comes naturally for children. They love to sing, dance, paint and draw. This type of therapy gives children an opportunity to learn and express themselves in ways that feel comfortable to them, engaging both the head and the heart in the learning experience."

Children International's agency in Mexico found the resilience curriculum to be successful, simple to implement and easy to adapt. Caregivers involved in the test of the curriculum reported their children had less anxiety and depression after completing the course. They also reported the course helped their kids improve interpersonal relationships. As a result, the agency will be implementing the curriculum this year. Additionally, Children Internation's agency in Kolkata, India, will be trained on the curriculum this month and will begin implementing the program in March.

Children International's Program Information Coordinator Autumn Miller says, "Health has always been one of our key program areas of focus. In addition to making sure our kids are physically care for, we want to make sure their mental health is taken into account as well. Our kids face difficult circumstances, but by building up their resilience, we can help them create a strong foundation for handling any adversity they may face."

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