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The COVID-19 pandemic and the public health measures enacted in Victoria had a profound impact on the lifestyle and mental health of children and families. The RCH National Child Health Poll (2021) highlighted significant negative mental health impacts across all demographic groups. This was particularly pronounced among children and parents in Victoria, where restrictions and lockdowns were stringent and prolonged.

 

Key Findings from RCH Reports (2021 & 2023):

Negative Mental Health Impacts (2021): Families experienced considerable stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues during the pandemic. Children faced disruptions in their education and social lives, which significantly affected their mental health and well-being.

Current Mental Health Status (2023): A follow-up report focused on children aged 8-13 years old indicated mixed outcomes. While the majority of children reported high levels of life satisfaction and well-being, a substantial minority continued to struggle:

  • Mental Health Symptoms: One in three children exhibited symptoms of mental health problems.
  • Parental Influence: Among those children with mental health issues, one in three had a parent with a serious mental health condition.
  • Specific Issues: 57% of these children experienced anxiety, 30% had depression, and 45% exhibited behavioral problems.

 

CATAKIDS Creative Arts School Holiday Programs:

In response to these challenges, Creative Art Therapy Australia (CATA) launched the CATAKIDS suite of Creative Arts School Holiday Programs in April 2023. These programs were designed to offer an enriching experience for primary school-aged children through a holistic therapeutic approach. The programs integrate various creative arts modalities to address the diverse mental health challenges children face post-pandemic.

 

Program Goals and Outcomes:

  • Engagement and Enrichment: The programs aim to create an engaging and enriching environment for children, promoting active participation and enjoyment.
  • Holistic Therapeutic Approach: By incorporating different creative arts modalities, the programs address multiple aspects of mental health and well-being.
  • Emotional Regulation: A significant outcome of the programs is their efficacy in supporting emotional regulation. Children are encouraged to express their emotions through creative arts, helping them develop healthy coping mechanisms and heightened emotional awareness.
  • Social Collaboration and Creativity: The programs foster social collaboration, creativity, and imagination, enhancing children's resilience and their capacity to adapt to life changes.
  • Supportive Environment: The nurturing environment provided by the programs supports children in exploring their emotions and developing inner strengths.

 

Future Initiatives:

To continue supporting children's mental health and well-being, CATA plans to launch further programs, such as the upcoming July CATAKIDS School Holiday Program. Interested parties can join CATA's mailing list or follow us on our social media channels (@creativearttherapyaustralia) for updates.

By addressing the ongoing mental health challenges faced by children through creative arts therapy, CATAKIDS aims to promote resilience, emotional well-being, and adaptive skills among primary school-aged children, helping them navigate the post-pandemic world with greater confidence and emotional stability.


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