PAH’s “Pajacyk” program faces an unprecedented surge in demand for child psychosocial support, addressing pandemic-induced mental health challenges in Poland.
Unprecedented Demand for Child Psychosocial Support
The “Pajacyk – Psychosocial Aid” program, run by the Polish Humanitarian Action (PAH), has seen an overwhelming response for its 2023/2024 edition. A staggering 154 organizations applied, nearly double the previous year’s count, highlighting the immense need for psychological support among children. These organizations collectively requested 25 million PLN in funding.
Struggling to Meet Growing Needs
“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” says Marta Chojnacka, the program coordinator for PAH. She emphasizes that not all institutions will receive funding due to budget limitations, stressing the importance of providing psychological care for as many children as possible.
Addressing Mental Health Challenges
The PAH program targets children growing up in adverse conditions, aiming to provide real support through specialized sessions, social and life skills development, and fostering interests. The goal is to empower children from challenging backgrounds to cope with crises effectively.
Pandemic Impact on Child Mental Health
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent isolation have exacerbated mental health issues among children. A shortage of school psychologists and child psychiatrists across Poland has led to lengthy waiting times for consultations, with a nationwide shortage of 2,300 specialists.
Extending a Helping Hand
Since its pilot in 2021, PAH has conducted three editions of the program, including one for children and youth arriving from Ukraine after February 24, 2022. Over 5,000 children have already received specialized help, many of whom are dealing with the trauma of war.
Innovative Approaches to Healing
PAH collaborates with organizations like the Inter Pares Foundation, offering a unique space for children, seniors, individuals with disabilities, and rescued animals to support one another positively. Through animal-assisted therapy, children can interact with various animals, promoting calmness and self-confidence.
The Importance of Expertise
Qualified professionals, including psychologists, psychotherapists, and educators, play a pivotal role in these initiatives. Supporting such endeavors financially allows for broader outreach to children in different regions of Poland while bolstering local NGOs.