What kind of mental health support is available to Lebanese and refugee children?

Reports issued by the United Nations this year show that 660,000 children in Lebanon need humanitarian assistance, split evenly between Lebanese and refugee children out of the estimated 6.8 million individuals who live in the country.

Aid is directed to these children through two main categories: Direct emergency aid consisting of food and essentials, as well as mental health support.

How a child’s environment affects their mental health

Social workers stress that children are psychologically affected by many circumstances and events, and may be traumatized by them. Such scenarios affect their health and behaviors negatively, both in the short term and long run if the problem is not recognized and addressed at a young age.

Factors such as their immediate surroundings, including their home and family, have direct effects on the mental health of children. How parents behave and even their own mental well-being project onto their kids.

The greater environment also plays a role, including their friends, relatives, neighbors, and teachers. Children are sometimes subjected to bullying or verbal, physical and sexual violence—all of which may also occur within households. 

Social worker Darine Abou Fakher told “Beirut Today” that the most prominent psychological problems that children suffer from in Lebanon—and especially refugees—include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and panic attacks, depression, and phobias.

How organizations respond

With the spread of trauma among these children, local and international associations in Lebanon are seeking to create programs to help children and their families to overcome the psychological issues they are experiencing.

These organizations help children in Lebanon through direct psychological intervention that takes many forms, according to Abou Fakher.

“The intervention begins with individual treatment sessions provided by experts and child psychiatrists with a specific approach,” she said. “These sessions focus on the main trauma factor that led to the psychological state of the child, with the trauma being dealt with through several sessions.”

Abou Fakher said that psychological intervention is also done by social workers, specialists, and counselors using holistic methods and comprehensive approaches to help the children, parents, and their environments while eliminating the risk factors facing them.

“There are also awareness and recreational activities, and psychosocial support, that children can get through associations that provide them with spaces to express themselves and their feelings,” she said.

These are some of the organizations that work in the field of mental health support for children:

Restart: 06 410 577

Embrace: 01 341 941

Doctors Without Borders: 01 737 090

Makhzoumi Foundation: 01 660 890

Terre des Hommes: 07 343 155

Save The Children: 01 614680

Amel: 01 317 293

International Medical Corps: 01 487921