Mental Health During COVID-19: How we are protecting the most vulnerable children
It was back in June last year when our dedicated team started to notice the toll that pandemic restrictions were starting to take on the well-being of children right across the communities in which we work. Our usually lively welfare sessions and regular food drops became much more subdued affairs. A large number of children appeared withdrawn, overly stressed and lacked energy. Some of them were even having problems sleeping. With so many children already living in extremely difficult situations starting to suffer adverse physiological effects, we knew we had to act fast!
We quickly scaled up our existing service by hiring more child counsellors and getting permission from village Chiefs for more group sessions in their communities. The continuing pandemic meant we had to adapt our expanded service to keep everyone safe. By supplying everyone with a face mask and using larger venues, our team provided essential mental health support to hundreds of the disadvantaged children in Kenya. Each child who attended our lifesaving sessions also enjoyed a full hot meal - something not guaranteed at home. We also provided information including emergency contacts to all children so they were not alone even after going home. But as the rate of Covid19 domestic violence increases further still, our team is now busy developing remote counselling and support options to reach even more children before it is too late.
With the rate of violence especially affecting girls and young women skyrocketing, it has truly become a race against time. Alarmingly 45% of girls and women have faced physical violence with 14% as young as 15 years old suffering from sexual violence. This has led to devastating injuries and serious physical, mental and sexual health problems. The surge in sexually transmitted infections, HIV rates and unplanned pregnancies has been devastating. With a lack of support from the government, it is up to organisations like DCI to provide the critical mental health support to get the most vulnerable children through. But we need your support to reach all those children that need our help now!
Find out how you can help us here.