Mental Health and Psychosocial Wellbeing in Education : The Case to Integrate Core Actions and Interventions into Learning Environments

Exposure to adversity, particularly in early childhood, can lead to lifelong struggles with learning and adverse physical and mental health. Mental health promotion and prevention, care services and psychosocial approaches can play an important role in mitigating these adversities and improving a range of developmental outcomes for children – including learning, relational and social skills, and health and nutrition. This study explores effective mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) programming integrated within education in emergencies (EiE). Core actions developed through a participatory consultation with multisectoral actors are outlined to address the common challenges and barriers associated with MHPSS programming in emergency education. Targeted approaches, resources and case studies from humanitarian settings are highlighted and provide detail on how to address planning, coordination and implementation barriers to effective MHPSS integration. This study explores the social and psychological foundations of MHPSS programming in EiE and how caregivers, teachers and communities can meaningfully participate in creating safe and healing learning environments, forming the critical safety net for children’s wellbeing in situations of adversity.


Key implications for practice

• Integrating MHPSS into education services and structures and ensuring holistic learning are imperative to promote mental health and to create a system that is responsive to the unique needs of girls and boys in conflict settings.

• To create safe, quality learning environments that are responsive to the mental health and psychosocial needs of school aged girls and boys, there must be a paradigm shift away from traditional education systems that rely on rote learning, to more holistic learning methods.

• Children, teachers, caregivers and community members must be included in the process of making decisions which affect their lives, and in all stages of the MHPSS programme cycle.

Ashley Nemiro, Zeinab Hijazi, Ruth O’Connell, April Coetzee & Leslie Snider | 2022
In: Interventions : Journal of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Conflict Affected Areas : ISSN: 1571-8883 | 20 | 1 | May | 36-45
Affected Populations, Caregivers, Community, Education, Emotional States, Interventions, Mental health, Psychosocial support, Quality of Life