Approximately 45,800 adolescents die in suicide each year
Nearly one in five people between the ages of 15 and 24 often feel depressed, according to a new UN report.
The Children’s Agency, UNICEF and Gallup conducted interviews in 21 countries in the first six months of the year.
Almost all children around the world are affected by blockages, school closures and disruptions to routine activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Combined with concerns about family income and health, many young people feel scared, angry and insecure about the future, the report said today.
Nearly a third of children in Cameroon say they often feel depressed or have no interest in doing anything, and one in 5 children in the UK and one in 10 children in Ethiopia and Japan feel the same way.
The findings do not reflect the levels of diagnosed depression, but show how children and young people feel during a pandemic. The lack of data collection and routine monitoring means that the picture of the mental health and needs of young people in most countries is extremely limited, the report said.
One in seven children aged 10 to 19 (13%) lives with a diagnosed mental disorder – 89 million boys and 77 million girls.
“It was a long, long 18 months for all of us – especially the children. With state blockades and pandemic-related movement restrictions, children have spent indelible years away from family, friends, classrooms, play – key elements of childhood, ”said Henrietta Faure, UNICEF Executive Director.
“The impact is significant and this is the tip of the iceberg. Even before the pandemic, too many children were burdened with unresolved mental health problems.
As the pandemic approaches its third year and amid concerns about its impact on the mental health of children and young people, the report also reveals that one child dies every 11 minutes from suicide. Approximately 45,800 adolescents die each year from suicide, the fifth most common cause of death in adolescents aged 10 to 19 years. For young people between the ages of 15 and 19, it is the fourth most common cause of death after injury, tuberculosis and interpersonal violence.
For girls in this age group, this is the third most common cause of death, and the fourth for boys.
Diagnosed mental health problems such as anxiety, autism, bipolar disorder, depression, eating disorders and schizophrenia can significantly harm the health, education and future of children and young people.
Untreated mental health problems are also affecting global economies. A new analysis by the London School of Economics included in the report shows that the economic cost of such neglect is € 455.1 billion a year.
Despite seeking support, government spending on mental health worldwide accounts for 2.1% of total health spending. In some of the world’s poorest countries, governments spend less than $ 1 a person to treat mental illness. The number of psychiatrists specializing in the treatment of children and adolescents is less than 0.1 per 100,000 in all but high-income countries, where it is 5.5 per 100,000.
Investment in promoting and protecting mental health is extremely low, the report said. The lack of investment means that people working in a number of areas such as primary health care, education and social services are unable to cope with mental health problems.
“Mental health is part of physical health – we can’t afford to continue to look at it any other way,” Faure said. “For too long, in both rich and poor countries, we have seen too little understanding and too little investment to maximize each child’s potential. That needs to change. “
Exactly one year ago, a study at the UNICEF Research Center in Florence surveyed children’s satisfaction with their lives in a total of 41 countries around the world. For this purpose, national data were analyzed to assess the mental and physical health of adolescents, as well as their social and intellectual competencies.
According to the general results, covering all the above parameters, it turns out that children live best in the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland.
Germany ranks intermediate 14th. And the worst ranked are Chile, Bulgaria and the United States, writes “Deutsche Welle” in its article.
A representative survey published today shows that 75% of children in Germany are very satisfied with the life they lead.
In the Netherlands, almost 90% give the same answer, in Switzerland – 82%, and in France – 80%. The lowest values were measured in Turkey (53%), as well as in Japan and the United Kingdom.
“However, having prosperity in society does not mean that all children have the opportunity to develop well,” said UNICEF Germany spokeswoman Rudy Tarneden. He adds:
“The perfect family of TV commercials is an illusion. Too many children live in unfavorable conditions. Including here in Germany.”
According to a UNICEF study, despite the long phase of good economic development in Germany, there is still child poverty.
In most of the industrialized countries surveyed, children also suffer from overweight problems and insufficient learning skills.
The proportion of obese children has increased in recent years: in Germany it is 27%
Nearly 40% of 15-year-olds in EU and OECD countries do not have basic reading and numeracy skills. In this respect, the children in Bulgaria, Romania and Chile perform the worst.
The best results are for teenagers in Estonia, Ireland and Finland.
UNICEF is also concerned about the insufficient social competencies of children. In most of the countries surveyed, one in five children does not feel confident in their social ability to make friends. Children in Chile, Japan and Iceland are the most insecure.
In Germany, only 72% of children say they have no difficulty making social contacts. In Romania, this percentage is 83 percent.
The survey tells us something else: Lithuania has the highest suicide rate among children and young people between the ages of 15 and 19, followed by New Zealand and Estonia.