Sesame Workshop, Viatris launch mental health support for M.East families

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Viatris Inc, the global healthcare company, and Sesame Workshop, the makers of Sesame Street, have launched new bilingual resources for parents and children in the Middle East to support the social and emotional needs of families and caregivers.

The resource feature five videos featuring beloved Sesame characters like Elmo and Grover, as they learn to handle big changes, hold mindful moments, take care of themselves and their loved ones.

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According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), one in seven children experience a mental disorder, accounting for 13 percent of the global burden of disease in this age group.

Developed as part of the global partnership between Viatris Inc and Sesame Workshop, the resources are designed to support the social and emotional needs of families across generations and help young children and their parents to recognise and manage ‘big feelings’.

The resources - available in Arabic and English - include five new videos featuring Sesame characters as well as advice from clinical psychologists. Each set of resources is built around a theme that resonates with parents and their children, and which helps them manage ‘big feelings’. These are: Handling Everyday Goodbyes, Big Changes, Managing Screen Time, Mindful Moments and Taking Care.

As part of the Middle East launch, Viatris has collaborated with expert partners from the UAE and wider region to help amplify the bilingual Sesame Workshop resources. Key regional partners shared their expertise and experiences on the topic of parent and children’s mental wellbeing during a panel discussion in Dubai, focused on key issues raised by the Sesame Workshop program.

Ayman Mokhtar, Regional President for the Middle East Turkey and Levant at Viatris commented: “Our partnership with Sesame Workshop was first initiated in 2020, and we are so pleased to announce the launch of the new resources focused on mental health and well-being for children, parents, and caregivers regionwide.”

“Learning and tacking difficult subjects in a fun setting does help parents understand how to manage big feelings, communicate with loved ones, and take care of themselves for a healthier community. At Viatris Middle East, we are committed to empowering people worldwide to live healthier at every stage of life, regardless of geography or circumstance and through our partnership with Sesame Workshop we will continue to support countless individuals, children, families and caregivers.”

Dr Saliha Afridi, clinical psychologist and founder at The LightHouse Arabia said: “As a community that is committed to increasing public mental health awareness and reducing associated stigma, we at The LightHouse Arabia believe that normalizing conversations about mental wellness and prioritising our children’s mental health are critical foundations for a well-rounded and healthy life.”

“But it’s equally important that parents take time for their own mental wellbeing and are able to talk about their struggles and the pressures of parenting. The Caring for Each Other Campaign provides valuable resources to support the mental health and wellbeing of children, parents, and caregivers in the UAE and wider Middle East region.”

Dr Sara Al Dallal, president of the Emirates Health Economics Society, said: “In the UAE, mental health is a key pillar of the National Strategy for Wellbeing 2031, which aims to enhance people's wellbeing by promoting healthy and active lifestyles and promoting good mental health.”

“The country is leading the way on many fronts, and the government engages with and supports initiatives across multiple sectors which contribute to improved wellbeing. Better mental health and wellbeing are economically proven to enhance productivity and build healthier societies.”

The new bilingual resources are designed to encourage positive conversations between children, caregivers and families about separation anxiety and the effects of isolation and unpredictability, communicating changes and uncertainty, mitigating parental stress amidst personal loss and economic strains, normalizing seeking assistance for mental well-being and using media positively for learning.

The materials are launched as part of Sesame Workshop's Caring for Each Other initiative. To date, the initiative has reached families in more than 100 countries and 41 languages.

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