Faith-Sensitive Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) to Foster Resilience in children on the move

Faith-Sensitive Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) to Foster Resilience in Children on the Move

In 2020, an unprecedented 36 MILLON children were on the move

“Children on the Move” is an umbrella term used to define children who are migrating or are moving due to various reasons that could include conflict, poverty, violence, natural disasters, climate change, discrimination, or lack of access to education or other services. They could be moving within or between countries and with or without their parents or other caregivers. Children affected by forced migration and displacement are one of the world’s most vulnerable populations that suffer from violations of their human rights and experience stressful, traumatic conditions that can have a severe impact on their psychosocial well-being.

The root causes of displacement and forced migration are multi-faceted, ranging from political persecution to a lack of economic prospects. Many people find themselves in dramatically deteriorating realities due to the combination of COVID-19, violent conflict, and climate change. Crisis prevention, post-conflict peacebuilding, and effective trauma responses are key elements in tackling the root causes of displacement and in building peace and resilience.

Religion, faith, and spiritual nurture can also contribute to support children’s resilience and act as a protective factor to positively counter the effects of trauma responses during displacement. Faith-sensitive approaches also help children to feel connected, learn to build trust with adults around them, and develop a sense of purpose and meaning, even during challenging circumstances.

Typical mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) interventions do not incorporate children’s spiritual nurture as a pathway to resilience. Normally, MHPSS interventions are also not recognized as essential contributors to peacebuilding initiatives and social cohesion. Large gaps exist in the field of MHPSS regarding the understanding of how the spiritual nurture of children can contribute to resilience and about how MHPSS interventions should be integrated into peacebuilding approaches to enhance the overall well-being of children affected by forced migration and displacement as well as to contribute to building peaceful societies.

This booklet highlights how faith-sensitive MHPSS approaches play a crucial role in promoting the well-being of children on the move. Faith-sensitive MHPSS approaches can restore connections and relationships among children and adults, and enhance a child’s sense of belonging and resilience capacity.