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Psychosocial wellbeing is a necessary condition for any human being to realize their full potential and to lead fulfilling, healthy and productive lives. People that have psychosocial wellbeing are confident, have self-esteem, feel safe, and are able to solve problems, make decisions, build positive social relationships, work together and resolve conflicts1.
All children have psychosocial support needs. These can vary depending on a child’s age, their life experiences, their family situation, gender, and even their individual personalities. The school and classroom environment, as well as the relationships between pupils and the teacher and pupil, can contribute to supporting a child’s psychosocial wellbeing. This 3-day psychosocial support (PSS) for teachers and other stakeholders aims to assist people working in Sierra Leone’s education sector to feel to support the psychosocial wellbeing of pupils in classrooms and the wider school environment.
Since the nation of Sierra Leone was faced with the Ebola outbreak and crisis, the psychosocial wellbeing of children and their families has been compromised in many and serious ways. For children, the experience of schools being closed for almost one year will have vastly influenced their psychosocial support systems and wellbeing. It is anticipated that children resuming school after such a long break will struggle with a range of psychosocial issues. These issues will likely to interfere with children’s learning, their behavior at school and the overall atmosphere of the school environment. Additionally, children may still be experiencing distress as a consequence of major life-changes and may struggle to concentrate or re-establish their focus for study. Finally, parents and teachers will equally feel the pressures brought about in crisis recovery situations, which may further have consequences on children’s behavior.
With this context as a backdrop, this manual provides teachers with some basic tools and skills to be able to offer psychosocial support to distressed children (or their parents or colleagues). Tools further aim to enable teachers to explore creative ways to help children (either individually or in the classroom) to reduce stress, foster resilience and coping, build supportive relationships and possibly prevent short and long term psychological problems. These tools are not just for Ebola-affected communities however. They will be widely beneficial at all times for teachers and other education stakeholders as well.