Supporting the mental health and well-being of refugee children in school

Image: Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas

Schools are increasingly diverse, including an important group of youngsters with a migration or refugee background. The war in Ukraine has led to a significant increase of refugee children in many schools across Europe. The experiences of war and sudden flight from their familiar surroundings can have a negative impact on the children’s mental health and well-being. Watch this webinar to learn how schools can play a crucial role in meeting the needs of distressed and traumatised children and how to strengthen their mental health and well-being.

What was this webinar about?

22 April 2022 | Duration: 60 min

Communicative activityPresentation Helen Cowie

Presentation Ilse Derluyn

This webinar presents evidence from research and practice about the emotional health and wellbeing of children and young people displaced by war.   

We start with an overview of what we mean by positive mental health, moving from the perspective of victimhood to the belief that refugees are survivors of adversity with the potential for resilience and strength. In fact, when given the necessary support of a whole school community, young people themselves can advocate for their own emotional wellbeing. 

The second part of the webinar fosters a better understanding of which risk and protective factors are at stake in the migrant and refugee population, and how these factors can be addressed in the school setting. 

Drawing on the experience in RefugeesWellSchool and other research projects, we further highlight several preventive psychosocial interventions that could be implemented in schools to address the mental health, and emotional wellbeing of refugee and migrant children and adolescents.  

Speaker panel

Helen Cowie

Helen Cowie is Emerita Professor at the University of Surrey, in the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. She is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and a Chartered Counselling Psychologist. She has researched and published widely in the field of anti-bullying interventions at school and university, as well as books and articles on the emotional health and wellbeing of children and young people, including a book of stories and lesson plans to teach inclusivity and social issues (with Ffion Jones and Harriet Tenenbaum) A School for Everyone by Helen Cowie | Hachette UK (2022). Currently, she is a member of an expert group advising the European Commission on the promotion of well-being, enhancement of mental health and resilience, and the prevention of bullying in schools throughout Europe.

Ilse DerluynIlse Derluyn is full professor at the Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy at Ghent University (Belgium). Her main research topics concern the psychosocial wellbeing of war-affected children, young refugees and migrants, unaccompanied refugee minors and victims of trafficking. She has widely published and is also active in trainings and support for practitioners, including teachers, social workers, and health staff. She also gives counselling to refugees. Ilse is ERC-grant holder of the research project ChildMove and coordinates the H2020-project RefugeesWellSchool. She is director of the Centre for the Social Study of Migration and Refugees (CESSMIR) at Ghent University and co-director of the Centre for Children in Vulnerable Situations.

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