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Children’s Mental Health: Rights and Perspectives

According to recent reports by UNICEF and WHO, the decline in children’s mental health has become a significant global issue. A longstanding source of concern, it has emerged more strongly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Children have been further exposed to threats - including anxiety and depression attacks, heightened exposure to domestic and sexual violence and more subtle abuses such as unhealthy competition - which are taking an enormous toll on them and may ultimately lead to social exclusion and inability to realize their full potential.

Despite these highly concerning developments, availability of adequate support and services for the mental health of children and adolescents is greatly lacking worldwide. With this MOOC we want to show that it does not have to be this way. Children’s right to health is well articulated in legal and policy terms. An understanding of the main challenges faced by children and young people in this context and the knowledge of possible mechanisms that exist to address these concerns may help realise that there are solutions.

One particular area of interest looks into approaches that prioritise and commit to the direct participation of children and young people in decision-making in this area of their lives. As demonstrated by the recent GC International Conference, there is a strong call from children themselves to ensure that answers are given to their doubts and requests, and that measures are taken through meaningful consultation with them to support their coping mechanisms and their proper, healthy and safe psychological development.

Our MOOC on this theme facilitates such understanding and knowledge by providing not only information and materials to understand children and young people’s mental health as a human right, but also guidance and examples on what can be done at the practical level.


Course Outline

The MOOC runs over 5 weeks and is organised in 3 modules:

Module 1 – Children’s mental health

  • Context: why it is important to talk about children’s mental health
  • Children’s mental health: a matter of rights

Module 2 - Protecting children’s mental health in times of crisis

  • Facing risks in a variety of situations
  • Minimising risks and maximising protection

Module 3 - A rights-based approach to children’s mental health

  • Children’s rights at the centre of solutions

Lecturers and Experts

In this MOOC, we invited experts in mental health and children’s rights from relevant UN bodies and agencies as well as NGO representatives and young advocates. The faculty includes, among others:


Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course, participants will have gained:

  • Key information about definitions, methods and practices in the area of children’s mental health
  • Robust knowledge on children’s rights principles, standards and practices
  • Increased awareness about the connections between children’s mental health and children’s rights
  • Clearer understanding - through reference to case study and implementation practices – of the need to adopt a holistic, rights-based approach to children’s mental health

Ultimately, the course is a pathway to:

  • Empower children, young people, families, social workers, health professionals, educators, children’s rights defenders, policy-makers and other members of civil society through education on the human rights-based approach to children’s mental health
  • Amplify dialogue on the importance of talking and acting on children’s mental health as a matter of rights
  • Envisage a roadmap for change, including: how to develop child/adolescent mental health policy and plans; inter-sectoral collaboration; advocacy on children’s mental health





How do I enrol in the course?

You can start the enrolment process by clicking the "enrol" button.

Is there a selection procedure to participate in the course?

The course is a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), which means we do not select participants on any basis. Rather, we welcome anyone who is interested in learning more about the topic to enrol and participate for free.



I would like to know if the course is free or if some parts are to be paid

Our course is a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), which means all components are open and totally free for anyone.

Do I need to pay any fee to attend the course?

There are no registration or tuition fees. The certificate of participation is also free and offered to all those who successfully complete all the course requirements (see below for details on the certificate).



Is the course accessible to persons with disabilities?

We want all participants in our courses to enjoy a great learning experience and we strive to always improve accessibility. Each week of the course includes one or two video lectures with accompanying transcripts and reading materials. The texts are in PDF format, work at low bandwidths, are printable and can be zoomed to the desired size. Some readings may include pages from accessible websites. This makes all of them accessible to those who use assistive technology software such as screen readers. Likewise, weekly discussions and module quizzes can be completed through our platform which is accessible, for example, to people who use speech input, keyboard accessible controls or text to speech tools. For more details please visit EdX Website Accessibility Policy.


Structure and pace

Is there a schedule for the course or is it self-directed?

The course is self-paced and mostly asynchronous so participants can study in their own time. However, to enhance peer learning, interactive participation and self-assessment, weekly topics and discussions as well as module quizzes are proposed at set dates. In any case, they are all open until the end of the course to facilitate access and completion at any preferred time. For a detailed description of the schedule check the course outline page on our website.


Certificate of participation

What do I need to do to get the certificate of participation?

At the end of the course, if you have actively participated in all required weekly discussions and successfully completed all quizzes, you will receive a certificate confirming your participation.


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