Mental health problems for young people a global issue

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It’s World Mental Health Day on October 10

GENEVA — Children are particularly vulnerable to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as their trauma often lasts long after a conflict has ended, says Ambassador Geert Muylle, permanent representative of Belgium to the UN in Geneva.

Muylle, vice president of the UN Human Rights Council, was speaking at a 5 October World Mental Health Day event titled, “International campaign: breaking the chains of stigma in mental health; restoring human dignity for persons with mental illness.”

The event was held the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva and sponsored by Frascarita International, the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Fondation d’Harcourt and the Belgiumgovernment.

“Mental health disorders are a global development issue,” said the ambassador. “It is estimated that 10 percent of the world’s population, including 20 percent of children and adolescents, suffer from some sort of mental disorder.”

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“Young people, who represent our world’s future, are especially at risk of a whole range of mental-health conditions as they transition from childhood to adulthood.”

Mental health disorders critical in conflict settings He said although mental health disorders affect both high- and low-resource countries they are particularly critical in settings of conflict and violence. “Human-made and natural disasters also add to people’s stress and mental instability,” Muylle noted.

Psychological First Aid

World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October and this year it focuses on “psychological first aid”.

Dr Nyambura Njoroge, WCC project coordinator for Health and Healing began with a prayer: “God our creator…we invite you into our presence…. Some of us carry the burden of the different kinds of mental health. Some of us are caregivers to our loved ones….

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“We commit ourselves into your care…so we hear your voice to give us the serenity to hear you….The stigma and shame that come with depression, the stigma that comes with death by suicide as a result of depression…..some us have walked that journey of stigma and shame. That is why we call upon you our God, to hear us, to guide us.”

Speakers from the WHO and the United Nations said that human rights abuses are common in both developed and developing countries.

Dainius Pūras, the UN special rapporteur on the right to health, said concerns remain about misuse and abuse of psychiatry that have different historical legacies in regions and sub-regions.

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