Policies, Standards, and Strategies

Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) for Children, Adolescents and their Families

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Save the Children International

Worldwide, 10-20% of children and adolescents have a mental health condition, 50% of which begin by age 14 and 75% by one’s mid-20s. Currently, mental health conditions account for 16% of the global burden of disease and injury among 10 to 19 years-olds, while those with more severe cases die 10 to 20 years earlier than the general population. For children in crises, the situation is even starker: of the 420 million children affected by conflict, 35 million by displacement and 35 million by natural disasters, 22% of children are assumed to at some point develop a mental disorder. On top of this, more than 80% of children and caregivers reported an increase in negative feelings due to COVID-19.

Although all children naturally demonstrate resilience in the face of distress, their age, developmental stage, and disability status, sources of support, and access to basic and survival needs can influence their ability to successfully cope with adversity. A key factor in their resilience is adequate social and emotional support and responsive care from a constant caregiver (i.e., parent or other caregiving figure).

Despite the alarming rates of mental health conditions globally, and calls for action to take measures to protect, promote and take care of mental health and psychosocial wellbeing of children and their families, less than 2% of national health budgets globally are currently spent on mental health, and only o,14% of ODA budgets have been spent on child and/or family-focused Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS). Children, adolescents, and their families have a right to live fulfilling and healthy lives, and the impact of investing in MHPSS are life-saving, long-term, and felt across sectors; increasing nutrition, health, learning and protection outcomes.

Save the Children urges policy and decision-makers at a global, national, and local level across governments, donor agencies, international actors, and civil society organizations (CSO) to join us in our commitment to:

  1. Increase long-term, flexible funding to MHPSS
  2. Mainstream, integrate, and coordinate inclusive and accessible MHPSS across sectors
  3. Act early and across the life course
  4. Increase access to evidence-based and community-grounded MHPSS
  5. Invest in workforce mental health capacity and wellbeing


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