HealingLeaves H.E.L.P Programme - Supporting Traumatised Children

Trauma is defined as severe emotional shock and pain caused by an extremely upsetting experience. Unfortunately, to some degree trauma is a part of life for all of us, but when extreme trauma occurs, especially during our formative childhood years, it can have lifelong negative effects.

The Optimus Study, which looked at the lifetime prevalence of violence against South African children, found that:

• 1 in 5 young people experience some form of sexual abuse in their lifetime
• 1 in 3 young people experience physical abuse from an adult caregiver
• 16% of young people experience emotional abuse
• One-fifth of young people experience some form of neglect

Experiencing trauma, especially during childhood, leads to an increased risk of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, substance abuse and suicide.

Covid 19 has bought new levels of collective trauma to our children. Lockdown, school closures, isolation, family members becoming sick or even losing their lives, job losses and increased poverty have all lead to children experiencing fear and uncertainty on a daily basis.

While those who experience extreme trauma would always benefit from receiving treatment from a registered mental health professional such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, South Africa currently has a serious shortage of these professionals able to assist everyone who needs support.

This is why H.E.L.P – Four Stages for Supporting Traumatised Children was developed.

This programme is not meant to replace or replicate psychological mental health treatment. Rather, it is a training programme aimed at educating parents, teachers, caregivers or anyone working with children so that they are better able to support and empower children experiencing trauma.

The course has been created and will be presented by Marthé Kotze. Marthé has an Undergraduate and Honours degree in Journalism, as well as a Masters Degree in Human Rights. Her work in the NGO sector, as well as years of work to recover from her own childhood trauma, has inspired her to empower those working with traumatised children with the knowledge they need to better support and understand the children’s struggles and needs. The course has been designed to educate people caring for children, especially those who do not have the knowledge or skills that social workers or psychologists are usually taught, so that they are able to support and understand the children they care for.

The training programme covers topics such as:

• Definitions and causes of trauma
• Symptoms of trauma in children of various ages
• A four-step approach to supporting and empowering children who experienced trauma
• Coping skills for children who experienced trauma

See training programme outline here.

Individuals or organisations interested in the H.E.L.P Programme can contact HealingLeaves to register for training, which can be delivered either online or in-person.

If you would like to sponsor a self-soothing toolkit for a child in need, you can make a donation using the banking details below.

Barach Ministries / HealingLeaves
Standard Bank
Account Number 421449594