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The National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN) Managua, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, municipal mayors, and non-profit institutions aimed to address the promote awareness of mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the cultural context, traditional education has not emphasized the importance of mental health and “members of this community still show prejudices and myths that limit the attention to these issues.” The partnership worked with local communities and primary and secondary schools in the Managua area, identifying problem areas such as addiction, domestic violence, lack of familial support, and poor emotional competency. The COVID-19 crisis has further exacerbated these issues, and brought with it significant psychological impacts, along with increases in promoting “false news” surrounding the virus.

Painting activity at local school. UNAN Managua partnership with the Ministry of Health, 2020.

The Psychosocial and Community Clinic is a space for multidisciplinary professional training of psychology, social work and medicine students. The clinic serves the university community and the surrounding communities, including local primary and secondary schools. It works with non-governmental and non-profit social organizations to jointly develop initiatives of socio-educational work at the community level and in psychosocial care processes at the personal level according to the particular and collective needs of vulnerable groups.

In conjunction with the Ministry of Education, the clinic has developed training plans to address issues of emotional education, violence prevention, self-esteem in children and adolescents, while also offering resources to strengthen capacities of teachers and counseling teams at local schools. The clinic’s collaborations are based on the needs of partners who have prioritized violence prevention, sexuality education, vocational planning, dengue virus prevention, COVID-19 prevention, education access, and enrichment for parents.


The UNAN project worked to strengthen “personal, group, and community emotional capacities to face daily life in this new context.” They created campaigns such as the “Emotional Backpacks” initiative to spread awareness of emotional health and to provide informational resources surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. They also worked with children, adolescents, and teachers to promote physical activities that strengthen emotional and physical health such as walks, games, and fairs. The focus on physical health has been integral in promoting biopsychosocial wellbeing in the community during the pandemic.

Miurell Suárez and Leana Lanuza of the UNAN partnership noted, “The university plays an important role in the development of the university community and its environment as an institution…to make visible a reality in the face of the social, emotional, physical, cultural, economic and political aftermath that COVID-19 continues to leave.” The project identified helpful common frameworks within the Community of Practice with other University Award winners such as social and solidarity economies, and forming relationships with not only local, but international partners.