Adventist Ministries Emphasize Care for Children's Emotional Health in the South American Division

[Photo: Marcos Sala and Sara Teixeira]

South American Division

Adventist Ministries Emphasize Care for Children's Emotional Health in the South American Division

A study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics in 2022 revealed that between 2015 and 2020 there was an 8% annual increase in visits and returns of children to hospitals for mental health problems in the United States.

Children | Brazil | Jefferson Paradello, with ANN Staff

A study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics in 2022 revealed that between 2015 and 2020 there was an 8% annual increase in visits and returns of children to hospitals for mental health problems. The research examined data from more than 200,000 patients treated at 38 pediatric hospitals in the United States. 

It was observed that 28.7% of cases concerned suicidal ideation and self-harm. Mood disorders represented 23.5%, while anxiety disorders accounted for 10.4%. The growing rates also attracted the attention of specific groups, such as parents, educators and specialists, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic.

This reality also brought concern to two areas of the Seventh-day Adventist Church that work directly with this public. Therefore, in addition to the projects and initiatives already carried out together, the Children's Ministry and the Adventurers Club for the South American Division (SAD) have come together to raise awareness about the importance of strengthening care for the emotional health of boys and girls in their first years of life. 

The issue raised by the church in South America was the theme of the biblical message presented in Adventist congregations around the world on Saturday, May 18, 2024 when Children's Sabbath and World Adventurer Day were celebrated. More than a reflection based on the Bible, the objective was to draw attention to the challenges faced by little ones and how to offer support to them. Points such as anger, fear, sad situations, and how to show love will be covered. Today, approximately 300,000 children are connected to the Church in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

Care and Attention with Emotions

"There are those who are vulnerable, who are bullied, who are orphans, who are sexually abused, who often have their emotions torn apart by so much abuse. And, often, they don't know how to speak out. They face major emotional problems, but they can't identify what they are suffering from. That's why, since last year, we put together a multidisciplinary team to write this Sabbath's theme to show how to help them", explains professor Gláucia Korkischko, SAD Children's Ministry director. 

The Adventurers Club, which has almost 1.5 million members aged 6 to 9 all over the world, of which almost 200 thousand are spread across eight countries in South America, hopes that this message will further strengthen the work carried out with parents. Called Family Network, this monthly meeting in which they participate in seminars, lectures and chats led by psychologists, teachers, and other professionals about the challenges of raising children. 

"From now on, they will learn how to treat a child with deep sadness, who is suffering bullying, harassment and does not understand or know how to deal with it. This is the main objective of this initiative: to unite parents and children towards the path of the cross. We help parents to have more experience to better understand the child", highlights Pastor Udolcy Zukowski, South American Adventurers director. 

The two ministries have worked to offer support and care to children, always combined with support for parents. One of the measures already adopted in Adventurers is the provision of a "blue room" at large events, an environment prepared to receive those who are sensitive to fireworks, sound, and lights, such as boys and girls with autism.  

"We need to welcome our children, understand them, and provide support so that they learn to deal with their emotions. Of course, we don't have all the tools to do this, which requires support from trained professionals, but our role is to show them, and especially to parents, what can be done," highlights teacher Gláucia. 

The original article was published on the South American Division Portuguese news site.