The issue of China’s left-behind children issue has become the most discussed topic among Chinese NGOs. Most organizations agree that while material support for these children is important, mental and psychological needs are even more pressing.What kind of methods or models could Chinese NGOs follow to give psychological and mental support to left-behind children? The China Youth Daily writes that some Chinese NGOs (they use the term “social organizations” 社会组织) currently provide the following four types of services:
1. Community & non-professional service
This type of service includes eenriching the daily lives of left-behind children by organizing after-school activities and installing facilities at schools. Research has shown that this type of service helps children become more mentally healthy and reduce their negative emotions.
2. Individual & non-professional services
This type of service is operated on an individual level with volunteers having one-on-one contact with left-behind children. Activities may include exchanging letters on a weekly basis (by communicating with the outside world, children are more likely to feel supported by society), and helping children reunite with their parents in the summer.
3. Community & professional service
This type of service includes providing schools with professional workshops on mental health for children, implementing psychology and mental health classes in schools, and also providing online psychological support.
4. Individual & professional service
This type of service includes the provision of counselling and legal aid hotlines, and individual psychological coaching. According to the article this can be very helpful to left-behind children, but due to a shortage of professionally trained psychologists working in and with NGOs the impact currently remains limited.
Overall, the China Youth Daily suggests that the government, NGOs (social organizations), and everyone in the community should work together to provide both material and mental support to left-behind children.