One in ten children suffer from a mental disorder, according to WHO

One in ten children suffers from a mental disorder, according to a report by the World Health Organization.

To avert this crisis, promoting and protecting youth mental health requires creating environments where children: are safe, have a sense of belonging, and can access quality services and support.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has attributed the impending crisis to the Covid pandemic which has doubled the number of young people suffering from severe emotional symptoms.

In addition, Tedros claims that prolonged violent conflict and climate change also contribute to stress-inducing mental disorders.

According to the DG of the WHO, a majority of those who suffer do not have or cannot access mental health support and this huge gap in access to quality and age-appropriate services is a failure of our societies. It is also a violation of children’s human rights.

“As guaranteed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, promoting and protecting the mental health of young people requires that we as societies come together to create environments where children are safe and have a sense of of belonging and where they can access quality mental services and support,” said the DG.

In his address to the 77th United Nations General Assembly, Tedros further stated that schools have an important role to play on both fronts; “This is where children hopefully spend most of their day, including those exposed to vulnerabilities and risks.”

“Even in the context of humanitarian emergencies, learning environments are important opportunities to provide safe and nurturing spaces and psychosocial support,” he noted.

Unfortunately, the WHO DG also notes that sometimes schools are not always safe spaces and can be sources of emotional distress, discrimination and sometimes even violence.

“Much work needs to be done to improve mental health services in schools which may be under-resourced and use a partial approach not always informed by evidence,” he added.

To address the situation, WHO and UNICEF have produced a toolkit to help adolescents strive which includes guidance on integrating mental health promotion and protection into schools , supported by case studies.

“We have also launched a joint program on mental health and psychosocial well-being and child and adolescent development with a focus on country impact and multi-sectoral action.”

The health and well-being of children around the world depend on safe and nurturing educational environments and high-quality, evidence-based mental services for those in need.

To combat this vice, Tedros notes that even the most challenging and under-resourced environments require sustained financial commitments and coordination between the education and health sectors and, where necessary, support from multilateral organizations. .

“Teachers, administrators and education leaders and young people themselves must all be engaged to develop new skills to implement critical changes in systems and maintain accountability,” he said. he concluded.

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