WHO Publication – RED NOSES: The Chance to be Children
The World Health Organization latest research publication* “Arts and Health: Supporting The Mental Well-Being Of Forcibly Displaced People” highlights the connection between art and mental well-being, by outlining important ways arts activities can be relevant activities to improve the health and well-being of forcibly displaced people.
People who have been displaced because of natural disasters, persecution, conflict, generalized violence or human rights violations have invariably experienced significant loss, physical hardships and other stressors that can result in psychological distress. Arts activities can be one of the relevant factors to improve their well-being and ensuring their right to a complete state of health by promoting multiple different psychological, behavioral and social processes.
RED NOSES' mission is to bring humour and joy to the people who need it the most and reconnect them again with their positive emotions. Clown interventions not only have an important impact on the psychosocial wellbeing, but can also trigger a shift of focus and help to regain resilience and hope. In emergency contexts RED NOSES is present with Emergency Smile, a programme that brings an international team of clowns to crisis situation in order to support children and their families to better deal with their stressful context and envision a better future. Especially for the engagement with children, the World Health Organization report mentions about RED NOSES:
"During a crisis, the use of clowning and providing a space for creativity can trigger a positive shift in focus for children by highlighting their strengths and abilities. For example, in a refugee camp in Lesvos, Greece, clown doctors from Emergency Smile – the emergency response programme of RED NOSES International – created a programme to support children and their families in developing strategies to cope with their challenging situation and express their feelings in a playful manner. Silvia, a NGO coordinator in the camp, shared her experience with Emergency Smile:
I’ve never seen the kids laughing so much or being that happy and engaged…In a humanitarian context, it is easy to forget that all this is as important as providing for material needs and sometimes even more important... give these children the chance of being children, which is something that all of them need and deserve."
The report includes important calls to actions, for decision makers and others looking for ways in which they can support people who have been forcibly displaced. Those are:
- Investment in the arts means investment in improving social integration and cohesion, and can contribute to mental well-being for all.
- Arts and cultural activities can form an important part of an organized mental health and psychosocial support response.
- Cultural and community assets can play an important role in supporting the health and wellbeing of forcibly displaced people.
- Artistic methods and practices can contribute to skill-building among those involved in humanitarian responses.
We fully support these statements and call on arts to become an integral aspect of humanitarian actions - from providing opportunities to have access to arts for refugees of all ages, to including artistic and creative trainings capacity building programs of humanitarian staff. Regularly providing Humor Relief workshops to staff in crisis settings, we know firsthand what an important impact such approaches can have on the own wellbeing of humanitarian workers as well as to provide them with further tools to engage with vulnerable groups they encounter in their daily work.
* This publication was initiated by the CultureForHealth project, which is co-funded by the European Union and led by Culture Action Europe. Key contributors include the WHO Collaborating Centre for Arts and Health, University College London; the Arts and Health initiative, New York University; and the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford.