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      Szczecin is launching the Psychological Support Programme

      Marta Kufel

      Marta Kufel

      Szczecin is launching the Psychological Support Programme

      Broader access to psychological support for students, teachers and parents, measures to promote soft skills and social communication skills, and an online platform for psychological support – Mayor of Szczecin Piotr Krzystek has announced the City’s Psychological Support Programme.

      It is an open-ended programme. The City expects the initiative to grow and expand, welcoming new partners. The first competitive procedures to select cooperators will start this February. Home.pl, a Szczecin-based company, will be the project's technology partner, bringing its online child safety module.

      A growing issue

      Announced by Szczecin, the Psychological Support Programme for Children, Young People and Teachers comes in response to reports from school communities about growing mental health issues among children. The initiative has also been influenced by study findings about the emotional condition of students and teachers after the COVID-19 pandemic.

      “It has come to my attention that children are struggling to cope and need urgent help.  And it is no different with the overworked and often underappreciated teachers. It is only after the COVID studies that we can see how big the problem actually is. We now know it is a growing issue – hence the programme,” said Mayor of Szczecin Piotr Krzystek.

      What did the studies reveal?

      Despite the different research methods and samples employed by the studies, the findings were consistently similar. They reveal that Szczecin’s students are currently struggling with issues such as anxiety, low self-esteem, helplessness, lowered mood and depressive states. Teachers, in turn, experience difficulties coping with stress, despondency and concerns about their students’ future, and are facing burnout. What is more, studies conducted by the Szczecin Youth Council have provided similar findings.

      “The programme rests on the fundamental principles of respecting human rights, dignity, freedom and equality, firm in the belief that children's well-being, their multifaceted growth and safety are a priority,” said project leader Beata Bugajska, Head of the Social Affairs Department at the Szczecin City Hall. “As part of our commitment to improving the mental well-being of children and young people, we plan to coordinate measures aimed at them in cooperation with NGOs, as well as to encourage young people to contribute to the programme. Their voice is invaluable.”

      Kicking off with a pilot project

      The Programme will kick off with a pilot project that will implement selected solutions in five schools:

      • Primary School No. 61;
      • Primary School No. 74;
      • General Secondary School No. 16;
      • Communications and Digital Multimedia Technical Secondary School;
      • General Secondary School Complex No. 9.

      The programme will entail measures aimed at developing an optimum model of communication for an environment as complex as that of a school, with a bundle of conflicting needs, expectations and often emotions of different groups – students, teachers, administrators and parents. More institutions and organisations will join as the initiative progresses.

      We will provide our support measures aimed at children, young people and parents in other schools and institutions as well.

      Once the pilot project is over, we will come up with recommendations for new solutions. And one more important thing – as promised, we will consult the Psychological Support Programme with students and teachers.

      What's in the Programme?

      According to Lidia Rogaś, Deputy Mayor of Szczecin, the Programme has an open-ended format and can be co-developed by external actors with a view to supporting its goals.  For example, the City has announced its plans to cooperate with NGOs. These will be selected through competitive procedures to take on the Programme’s tasks. The tasks will include supporting the well-being of primary and secondary school students by helping them develop soft and crisis-coping skills; promoting their emotional growth and the development of their social communications skills; as well as broadening access to individual and group psychological support through measures carried out by NGO experts. Competitive procedures will be announced in the second half of February 2024.

      Expert assistance and support will also be extended to teachers at Szczecin's schools. The pilot project will involve measures to strengthen teachers’ competencies, including in crisis recognition, relationship building (teacher – student, teacher – parent, teacher – teacher) and developing strategies to prevent and respond to difficult situations at school that are putting children's and young people's development at risk.

      Technological support

      The programme will also comprise an online platform. This critical component will provide an effective support tool for children, young people, teachers and parents, with a special focus on preventing digital addition. The platform came about thanks to the City's partnership with home.pl.

      “Partnering with Szczecin – which has been our home city for 27 years, since the company's inception – on a project that aims to support the mental well-being of children and young people is a natural choice, aligning with our strong relationship with Szczecin, our competencies and the incredible importance of these measures. As a technology partner, we will provide an online platform that facilitates effective informational, educational and preventive measures on a much bigger scale, making an impact faster. Home.pl will also offer its technological expertise, which is a critical component of understanding the technological mechanisms behind digital addiction,” said Maciej Kornacki, President of the Board at home.pl.

      The new platform is expected to provide a compendium with essential knowledge for individual target groups. It will be used to offer a variety of training courses, workshops and educational materials. Thanks to state-of-the-art technology and social media, we will be able to continuously expand our educational, informational, support, journalistic and training offerings.

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