Publication records project aimed at children’s mental health

A psychopedagogical recreational project aimed at children’s mental health, promoted by Dara Institute with the support of Queen Silvia’s Foundation – Care About the Children, chaired by the Queen of Sweden, came to an end in December 2023.

Started in April 2022, in a post-Covid-19 pandemic scenario, the initiative aimed to observe children ranging from 0 to 12 years old, members of the families served by Dara, during playful and recreational activities in order to identify the development of mental health issues – such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), depression or signs of abuse – and enable the monitoring or treatment of identified cases.

In order to record and share the good practices developed during the project with other professionals and organizations, Dara Institute organized a publication, launched in February 2023. The work presents the stages and work of psychologists and educators involved, in addition to listing technical-scientific information, cases and monitoring instruments that contribute to the understanding of this initiative.

The publication can be read here.

Project structure

The project was structured under three phases: identification, which mainly occurred in the recreational area, a space where families can leave their children during care; diagnosis, in which the Child Psychology team carried out an initial evaluation of the children in which some specific demand was identified; and finally, treatment and/or referral, a stage in which the actual monitoring began or, if necessary, referral to a specialized professional or institution.

The reception and monitoring of the little ones is carried out jointly by the Institute’s Psychology and Education teams, who work with games and playful activities suitable for different age groups. While children from 0 to 2 years old enjoyed activities aimed at sensory development such as physical actions (walking and crawling) and language, the older ones, from 7 to 11 years old, carry out activities in order to encourage logical reasoning and understanding of feelings and emotions.

Results

In total, approximately 550 children were assisted from the beginning of the project, in 2022, until October 31, 2023. Of the total observed, 80 underwent evaluation with the Psychology team, of which 66 started a psychological monitoring and 15 were referred to specific treatment centers.

The main demands that arose during the project were sleep issues (8%), diagnosis or suspicion of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (8%), speech delay (8%), diagnosis or suspicion of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) (12%), intense fear (12%) and aggressiveness (16%).

About the Care About the Children Foundation

Queen Silvia’s Foundation – Care About the Children envisions working for a world where all children have their basic needs met, in line with what is established in the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Created in 2013 and scheduled to end in 2024, the foundation aims to contribute to well-defined aid projects that directly benefit the most vulnerable children in the world, collaborating with organizations that have projects so that they receive support for education and have the opportunity to feel safe and happy during their upbringing.

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