International Medical Corps designs and implements age-appropriate programs to address identified needs. We design projects for children and youth to build key life skills for youth who are coping with difficult situations, helping them to develop friendships and encouraging them to engage in their communities.

We work with local partners to assist children and their families by providing safe spaces and healthy activities in urban and camp settings. In our youth empowerment program, community projects are designed and carried out by young people themselves, enabling them to learn important skills and forge new relationships with others in the process.

Adolescence is a critical phase in life for achieving human potential. It sets the foundation for later adult life and well-being. It is a time of significant change, when individuals transition from their family of origin to a family of their own, begin to engage in employment and shape their identity. Globally, it is shown that mental disorders are the largest contributor to the burden of disease in young people aged 10-24. Across all countries, suicide has overtaken maternal mortality as the top cause of death for adolescent girls, and is the third leading cause of death for adolescent boys. Adolescents are often a neglected group; health providers feel less well-trained to work with adolescents and are often influenced by social stigma related to adolescents seeking services for sensitive issues, such as sexual and reproductive health.

Our Response

The people that we help have often been exposed or are at risk of being exposed to conflict, displacement and social adversities, such as violence, early marriage, family separation and child labor. Community-based programs for children and youth at International Medical Corps provide psychosocial support, promote social connections and learning through recreational and educational activities, and foster overall well-being, protection and healthy development. We provide programming in safe and accessible spaces, facilitated by trained staff who are able to identify and refer youth and family members who may be in need of more specialized services. International Medical Corps’ best practices for community-based safe spaces for children and youth include cross-sector collaboration between child-protection and mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) teams, to ensure that programming integrates key MHPSS and protection components.

Highlights & Resources

International Medical Corps’ MHPSS teams have created programming to specifically address mental health, psychosocial and protection needs of children and youth in humanitarian settings. We have developed and implement an evidence-based youth empowerment program (YEP) that helps vulnerable and host-community youth, ages 12-18, develop skills to promote well-being, empowerment, protection and resilience, with a focus on building confidence, resources and social/community cohesion. Through a life-skills curriculum, YEP uses a variety of mediums, including artistic and music activities, teaching and practicing basic coping mechanisms, as well as practical engagement with the community through a community-service project. A recent review of three years of YEP in Jordan showed that, after completing YEP, participants demonstrated significant improvements in social skills, relationships with parents and community connectedness, and significant reductions in depression, anxiety and negative feelings. Read more about YEP in Jordan here.

International Medical Corps MHPSS teams also completed an ethnographic assessment of psychosocial needs of children at Vasilika Camp. Read about assessing for the psychosocial needs of children here.

Our child and youth-specific MHPSS programs focus on protection, life-skills development, psychosocial support, well-being and connection to resources and communities.

These programs include various approaches: early childhood development (ECD), child- and adolescent-friendly spaces (CFS), and a youth empowerment program (YEP).

Additional Resources