The Covid pandemic brought the whole world to a stand still and when countries went into lockdown, there was also a surge in the mental health crisis. In Uruguay too, there was an increase in mental health challenges as interactions were limited to virtual platforms and Uruguay asked for households to observe “sanitary bubbles” restrictions, limiting members to six or less. Social confinement led to an increase in psychological crises with predisposing symptoms of depression and increased drug use since March 13, 2020. This situation has particular severe consequences for young people and adolescents, as important group exchange and socialization became limited.
GPW Uruguay decided act on the situation with a project to address the elevated demand for consultations on mental health care services and Nibia Pizzo, Country Director led the project. The project was conducted through 2021, reaching 67 educators and parents of adolescents directly through workshops, 40 individuals through telephone consultations and 150 adolescents through indirect outreach.
The project was conducted in two phases. The first was two educational workshops with teachers and educators to discuss mental health issues and ways to help children and adolescents. The educators were from centers and homes with children's/adolescents separated from families by court order. Maria, a teacher from the event, thanked GPW Uruguay for the “opportunity of learning and exchange” useful for their work with adolescents.
The second phase was done in collaboration with the Unión Nacional de Ciegos del Uruguay (UNCU) to provide free psychological support through telephone calls. GPW Uruguay also reached out to adolescents from different centers and shelters with informative brochures on mental health. The project showed good results and was able to aid in mental health prevention. People called not just to receive psychological assistance but also to make inquiries about appropriate procedures to help struggling adolescents with mood disorders such as depression and bipolar or drug use.
Nibia Pizzo, Country Director for GPW Uruguay and psychologist herself led the project said that the “prevention in adolescent mental health is especially necessary in the historical moment we are living”. She acknowledged her team and said, “It has always been possible to work with a great spirit of collaboration from all those involved. Their commitment has increased over the years, which has made it possible to work in an agile and efficient manner.”
GPW Uruguay project helped create peace and stability during this time of disruption, reaching teens and youths affected by the pandemic. The project embodies GPW’s mission to further a world of peace through women-led initiatives and as the world bounces back from the pandemic, GPW International will continue to do so.