Lebanon is currently experiencing multiple crises: a nationwide economic collapse, which has followed from political turmoil at the end of 2019, a refugee crisis since 2012, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the repercussions from the devastating explosion that hit Beirut on 4th August 2020. These four crises are reinforcing existing vulnerabilities across Lebanon as well as plunging additional families into poverty and uncertainty. They have devastating impact on communities in Beirut, Mount Lebanon, in the North and across Lebanon. Children were particularly affected. These crises caused immense psychological distress not only on children and as well on the caregivers. The most serious child protection concerns are increasing and affecting a greater number of children and families, across all nationalities living in Lebanon. This trend is likely to continue during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, the economic crisis and the aftermath of the Beirut Blast, with boys and girls at even further risk of violence, gender-based violence, exploitation, abuse, separation and neglect.
The multitude of crises affecting Lebanon’s residents has a negative impact on the mental health and psychosocial wellbeing of individuals and households. The severe economic crisis in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic had already severely affected the mental health of caregivers and their children. The mental health needs of children, youth and caregivers will increase in the upcoming months and years following the explosion, requiring psychological support to reduce the initial distress experienced and more specialized interventions to support those who develop more enduring mental health challenges, related to the traumatic event and the cumulative stressors (economic, health, housing). Children are particularly vulnerable during this time. Combined loss of livelihood opportunities, deterioration of the networks and overwhelmed specialised services is expected to have a negative impact on the ability of child protection and social welfare services to respond to protection needs and to ensure child wellbeing. There is already a limited amount of child focused specialised services, and with increasing demand this gap will only increase.
To respond to all the compounded crisis mentioned above, HELP provides life-saving mental health and psychological support for children and caregivers. The psychological support activities will begin at the lower level of the MHPSS pyramid of support with the provision of Psychological First Aid (PFA) across different sectors, community-based support for caregivers and children, including community based MHPSS and emotional support sessions for children and caregivers. In addition, individuals whose symptoms might persist will be referred to the provision of specialized case management and mental health services for children in the upper levels of the pyramid provided by other actors.
Through this implementation, HELP aims to strengthen the protective environment and alleviate stress of vulnerable children, youth and their caregivers and to provide appropriate protection services.
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