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Depression, anxiety, and behavioural disorders are some of the most common mental health challenges children and youth face. They are major contributors to lost school days, dropping out, poverty and other negative life outcomes. In their most severe forms, they can lead to suicide, the third leading cause of death for adolescents worldwide.

Children living in low and middle-income countries who are experiencing poverty, displacement, racism, conflict, or gender-based violence are especially likely to be undiagnosed and unsupported. They are also the least able to access support. Health systems in these countries often don’t have the resources to protect children from mental health risks, with sparse coverage and high costs making professional care inaccessible.

Children depend on schools and families to provide caring, supportive environments that help them cope with negative emotions and experiences. School closures, social isolation, and family stresses caused by COVID-19 have made it even more difficult for them to get the help they need. But children are refusing to be held back. They are fighting to get the care and help they deserve, and you can help them.

Watch how play helps children heal


For many of the world’s most marginalized children, the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. And its toll is not just physical. Quarantines, lockdowns, and social isolation have had serious impacts on mental health. More than 2/3 of children have seen their mental health grow worse over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Girls, refugee and displaced children, and children with special needs have been especially hard hit.

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Right To Play is a leader in using the power of play to help the world’s most marginalized children. Even in the most desperate conditions, where mental health services are unavailable, children can draw on the power of play to become more emotionally resilient.

Play protects children from the worst of the long-lasting psychological consequences of trauma, grief, and isolation. It prevents mental health conditions from worsening, and helps children continue to develop emotionally, socially, and cognitively — even under the toughest conditions.

Using play-based psychosocial methods, we create caring, supportive environments that help children who have been affected by crisis understand and manage the complex emotions they are feeling, including grief, loss, and fear.

Playing helps children to recognize and express their emotions and develop positive relationships with peers and family members. It helps them to deal with anxiety and boredom and build their ability to concentrate and focus on what’s important to them. It helps them recover their sense of normalcy and their hope for a bright future.


Lebanon: Daniyal’s Story


Daniyal’s life was turned upside down when the Beirut explosion of 2020 destroyed his home, injured him, and left him traumatized. His mother didn’t know if he would ever smile again. Then he joined a Right To Play program that provided psychosocial support for children just like him.
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Jordan: Qasida’s Story


After her father was killed in the Syrian Civil War, Qasida struggled with feelings of loss, and was forced to cope with isolation in her new life as a refugee in Jordan. She was acting out in school and at home until she enrolled in a Right To Play program that helped her process her anger and her grief.

Thailand: Than’ Story


Than grew up in Mae La, a shelter for displaced persons where poverty, familial separation, and trauma have scarred the community. He helps local children and youth who are experiencing trouble with their families to develop positive relationships with them.
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