Protecting children's rights is one of the cornerstones of human rights. Around the world, there are children being exploited and mistreated. Aseil Al-Shehail, former vice-chair to the committee on the rights of the child CRC, is heavily involved in advocating for children's rights. She has worked for the United Nations in New York, spreading the word about children's rights and the changes that need to be made.
Children's rights are an integral part of family rights. A compassionate society regards its children as valuable human beings, ensuring that they are fed, educated, and given proper medical care. In some countries, this mission is difficult to accomplish. The United Nations and other multinational organizations intercede to provide their expertise and to support families in disadvantaged areas.
Problems Faced by Children
In some countries, children are not privileged with basic human rights. Child labor laws may not always protect children from exploitation. Children may be trafficked, and they may have certain health and safety needs that are overlooked.
Access to education is one of the greatest challenges faced by the world's children. While free and accessible public education is available in most countries, the developing world still has a long way to go. In these countries, children may need to walk miles to a schoolhouse or may have no access to education at all. Since literacy is one of the major components of workforce readiness, these children will often be deficient when they are adults.
Female education is especially vulnerable in many countries. Young females are not always encouraged to attend school. This is due to religious restrictions, social restraints, or poverty and the family's need for survival. Understanding the circumstances relating to proper female education is an element of Aseil Al-Shehail's mission.
Organizations Supporting Children
The following organizations promote children's rights through a variety of initiatives:
The largest agency promoting children's health and welfare around the world is the United Nations Children's Fund or UNICEF. UNICEF and its local partner agencies have made a significant difference in the lives of underprivileged children. The mission of UNICEF is to protect children's rights, to help satisfy basic needs, and to expand opportunities. UNICEF is involved in diverse areas such as child protection, survival, education, applicable social policies, and emergency aid.
Child Rights International Network
Another agency involved with children's rights is the Child Rights International Network. This organization is a think tank that promotes children's rights through research and advocacy. Their goal is to let children be recognized as individuals with distinct human rights. They also seek justice for rights violations affecting children.
Children's Defense Fund
The Children's Defense Fund operates within the United States. This organization promotes literacy, academic enrichment, and addresses the needs of disadvantaged children. They are involved with reducing child poverty, promoting good health, protecting child welfare, enhancing early childhood development, and promoting justice for young people. The Children's Defense Fund also promotes gun violence prevention.
International Bureau for Children's Rights
The International Bureau for Children's Rights is an international organization that promotes children's rights in the Americas, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. The organization works with social workers, defense forces, staff in the judicial system, and other bodies to develop and implement child-friendly practices. Their particular focus is on emergency situations, violence and exploitation, and children's interactions with the justice system. The agency performs research and supports local stakeholders with the information, tools, and resources that they need to advocate for in order to increase children's rights.
What Supporting Children Means
Supporting children is part of a belief in a better future. Children's welfare organizations may have different ideologies, but they are all dedicated to making life better for the youngest members of society. Children should not have to suffer needlessly from disease, hunger, or a lack of education.
Helping Children Grow
All of these organizations have a role to play in ensuring children's legal and human rights. When children's rights are neglected, the population can suffer for generations. Children need to be fed, given clean water, educated, housed, and protected from exploitation. Their parents also need to be informed about their children's needs and, in some cases, need to be educated themselves.
Aseil Al-Shehail has been a major voice for children through her worldwide advocacy. Through her work with the United Nations, she has been involved at the highest levels. Now as an independent consultant Aseil Al-Shehail will continue to provide support to international organizations that help to safeguard every child's basic human rights.
5 min read
When we envision a person who is suffering from substance use disorder (SUD)—defined by having a history of past misuse, experiencing increasing mental health symptoms, or having a family history of addiction—we often picture someone waking up and instantly grabbing their first drink. However, in my experience working with those battling SUD for nearly a decade, I've learned that everyone's relationship with alcohol looks different and having a few too many drinks at night can be just as dangerous.
The time of day, amount, or type of alcohol one drinks doesn't define if they suffer from SUD or not—it's the compulsion to drink. By focusing on healthy stress relievers and implementing them into your daily routine, you aren't just avoiding another glass at night, you are curbing any inclination for SUD that you may have.
While you may feel the desire to reach for another drink after dinner and putting the kids to bed to relieve some of the stress you incurred that day, there are other things that you can do that are much more beneficial to your mental health and wellbeing.
Risks of Reaching for Another Drink
Reaching for another cocktail or glass of wine can feel like a great way to relieve the stress of the day at the time, but over time it can actually lead to the opposite. Excessive drinking is known to lead to increased anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders such as increased risk of family problems, altered judgment, and worsened sleep quality. These can all lead to increased stress and create a continuous cycle I have seen in many of my patients, which often prove difficult to break.
Increased alcohol consumption can directly impact an individual's mood and temperament, too. In my patients, I've seen a connection between increased alcohol consumption and irritability, fatigue, and loss of interest in activities that previously brought that person joy—activities that people should always put time into, especially right now during the pandemic.
While drinking in moderation doesn't have serious implications for some, others are already at increased risk for SUD. One drink per day is considered moderate for women, while eight drinks or more in a single week is categorized as heavy drinking. It's important to monitor your intake—whether you are at increased risk for SUD or not. It is all too easy for one glass to become another, and then another. And if you keep reaching for just one more drink, you can start to build a tolerance, as it requires more and more alcohol to achieve the desired effect. This can result in dangerous, addictive habits that will alter your life, and the lives of those who care for you.
Three Healthy Ways to Relieve Evening Stress
Stress relief from alcohol is short-lived, but choosing healthier, alternative stress relievers can provide long-lasting benefits for both your mental and physical wellbeing. At Wellbridge, our team not only focuses on treating addiction but also on teaching healthy habits to support ongoing sobriety. And many of these learnings can be implemented to avoid addiction by handling stress better as well!
Below are three healthy stress relief ideas you can implement into your routine:
- Mindfulness exercises can be a powerful and mentally stimulating stress reliever. Throughout our therapeutic program at Wellbridge, we provide different opportunities to cultivate mindfulness. For example, breathing exercises, such as box breathing or diaphragmatic breathing, mindful walking, and progressive muscle relaxation. If you're looking for entry, guided meditation, check out this YouTube channel where experts post mindfulness exercises each week.
- Human connection is invaluable. Whether it is your spouse, your children, a friend, or even a therapist, connecting with someone else can be a great way to relieve stress. The additional perspective that another person provides can also help us feel that the anxieties and stressors we are experiencing are more manageable. If you are feeling increased stress from loneliness or isolation, reach out and schedule a Zoom coffee hour with a friend, or call a loved one to check-in and chat.
- Physical activity is an excellent stress reliever as well, for so many reasons. Not only can it help us get our mind off of stress, it enables our bodies to release endorphins and provides long-lasting physical health benefits. Physical activity doesn't need to be a full-blown workout if you don't feel up to it, or simply don't have extended periods of time to dedicate to a longer exercise regimen. Even a short walk or some stretching can go a long way towards improving your mood. I enjoy following guided, online yoga practices for both mindfulness practice and physical activity.
Despite my years working in this space, I am no stranger to giving in to stress. However, I've learned that by allotting myself a little time each morning and evening for activities that set a positive tone in my life—like meditation, journaling, and exercise—I've been able to better manage my stress and feel more prepared for heightened periods of stress. Do I manage to set aside personal time every morning and evening? Definitely not—life happens! But by doing our best to take regular time out for ourselves, we're all certain to be in a better place emotionally and mentally.
Putting Your Mental Health & Wellbeing First
It's important to also recognize that it isn't just stress that causes us to reach for another drink at night. With the added pressures and responsibilities of women in today's world, having another glass of our favorite drink at the end of the day can often seem like a quicker and easier option than other healthier ways to relieve stress.
However, it's essential to put your mental health and wellbeing front and center in your priority list—something that many women struggle with. But just like the oxygen masks on an airplane, you can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself first. By focusing on implementing small, healthy habits and making them a seamless part of your daily routine, you ensure that you can show up in all aspects of your life and for all the people in your life.
If you are struggling with increased stress, be specific and honest with your support system about your need to preserve your mental wellbeing. Prioritizing your needs will help you be there for other people you care about in your life.
I always refer back to a quote from a Dar Williams song—a song about therapy no less! "Oh, how I loved everybody else when I finally got to talk so much about myself." Talk about your needs with others and find time to develop healthy coping habits. And if you feel as though you've already created an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, discuss that relationship with a medical advisor to learn if advanced treatment is the right option for you.