The 2022 year-end closing ceremony for the literacy in child mental health project, aimed at 30 first and second key-stage educators, has been held at the Pablo Neruda School in Valparaíso.
The project was entitled “Participatory construction and feasibility of a multicomponent intervention to improve the wellbeing of primary school children following the COVID-19 pandemic” and was led by the Del Salvador Psychiatric Hospital in collaboration with the Universidad de Valparaiso. It was financed by the National Fund for Health Research and Development (FONIS).
The aim of this initiative was to help establish and structure a child mental health network. This would include relevant actors from the community, the health and education system in a neighbourhood of Valparaiso and involve participatory design and implementation of a child mental health literacy programme for primary school teachers, with the ultimate aim of promoting emotional well-being in educational communities and help in the early investigation and prevention of mental health problems in schoolchildren.
The psychiatrist Fanny Leyton explained that “following the pandemic, mental health has become a buzzword, and mental health problems have increased. This has shone the spotlight on the issue and suggests that the only way to reduce mental health problems in the medium and long term is prevention, awareness and early treatment. These are the objectives of FONIS. We all need to learn more about mental health, and together improve it, not only by reducing the stigma associated with seeking treatment, but also by creating more nurturing environments geared towards emotional well-being. All of this is of primary importance in children.” She emphasized that adults must look after the mental health of minors, and therefore “literacy in child mental health is essential for teachers.”
The project, directed by doctors Madrid and Leyton, was coordinated by teacher Ximena Velasco and supported by child and adolescent psychiatrist Marcelo Briceño, psychologist Karla Álvarez, psychiatrist and professor at the UV School of Medicine Rubén Alvarado, social worker Carolina Godoy, and child and adolescent psychiatry scholarship holders Bárbara Matamala, Danixa Venegas and Nicolás López.
The experience is set to be repeated in other educational institutions over the coming year: in the Jorge Alessandri and Piloto Pardo schools during the first semester and in the España and Juan Latorre schools during the second.