International Medical Corps designs and implements age appropriate programs to address identified needs. Projects for children and youth are designed to promote early childhood development through parent skills training and to build key life skills for youth coping with difficult situations, developing friendships, and encourage youth 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, who learn important skills and forge new relationships with others in the process.

Adolescence is a critical phase in life for achieving human potential and 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 (mental disorder (45%), followed by unintentional injuries (12%) and infectious and parasitic diseases (10%)). 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 and 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

International Medical Corps’ beneficiaries 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 aim to provide psychosocial support, promote social connections and learning through recreational and educational activities, and foster overall wellbeing, protection, and healthy development. Programming is provided in safe and accessible spaces, and 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 programming integrates key MHPSS and protection components. Programming approaches include: Child and Adolescent Friendly Spaces, Youth Empowerment Program, and Makani – My Space.

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, including programming in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, and Ukraine. We developed and implement an evidence-based Youth Empowerment Program (YEP), which engages vulnerable and host community youth, ages 12-18, in developing skills to promote well-being, empowerment, protection, and resiliency, with a focus on building confidence, resources and social/community cohesion. Through a life skills curriculum, YEP curriculum uses a variety of mediums including artistic and music activities, teaching and practicing basic coping mechanisms, and practical engagement with the community through a community service project. A recent review from three years of YEP in Jordan showed that after completing YEP, participants demonstrated significant improvements in social skills, relationship with parents, community connectedness, and significant reductions in depressive mood, anxiety and negative feelings. Read more about YEP in Jordan here.

International Medical Corps MHPSS teams completed an Ethnographic Assessment of Psychosocial Needs of Children at Vasilika Camp. Read about assessing for Psychosocial Needs of Children here.

Our child and youth-specific MHPSS programs focus on protection, life skill development, psychosocial support, wellbeing, 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