Unicef has published a report on the mental health status of children aged 0 to 19. According to the figures revealed in this publication, 49,000 young people commit suicide every year, making it one of the five main causes of death in this age group.
"An estimated 13 percent of adolescents aged 10-19 is estimated to live with a diagnosed mental disorder, " Unicef outlines on the occasion of the publication of the report "The State of the World's Children 2021: On MY Mind: Promoting, protecting and caring for children's mental health." The report, published during the international conference " Mind Our Rights, Now !" functions as an alert about the state of children's mental health, which has particularly deteriorated during the covid-19 pandemic.
"It has been a long, long 18 months for all of us -- especially children....The impact is significant, and it is just the tip of the iceberg," said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. "Almost 46,000 adolescents die from suicide each year -- this is among the top five causes of death for this age group."
The organization dedicated to children's rights regrets that just "2 percent of government health budgets are allocated to mental health spending globally." An investment that is "too little," laments Fore.
Protecting children's mental health
To support parents, Unicef has put online a guide entitled " What's on your mind? " Divided into four age categories (from 0-5 years to 14-18 years), this campaign explains the main changes experienced at each stage of life and provides tips for "starting a mental health conversation" with kids.
Both private and public institutions have a role to play, in the view of Unicef, which encourages these organizations to commit "urgent investment in child and adolescent mental health across sectors," and to particularly focus on prevention. It also wants to ensure better monitoring of mental health disorders, through education and social protection and finally to break "the silence surrounding mental illness."
"Mental health is a part of physical health -- we cannot afford to continue to view it as otherwise," explained Fore. "For far too long, in rich and poor countries alike, we have seen too little understanding and too little investment in a critical element of maximizing every child's potential. This needs to change," she concluded.