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UNICEF, WHO to host global mental health conference

Mariyam Malsa
07 November 2019, MVT 16:48
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are co-hosting a mental health conference from November 7-9 in Florence, Italy. PHOTO: UNICEF
Mariyam Malsa
07 November 2019, MVT 16:48

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) will co-host their first conference on mental health in Florence, Italy, from November 7-9.

The conference is part of celebrations marking the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and is included in Leading Minds, the annual global conference series recently introduced by UNICEF to highlight major issues affecting children and young people in the 21st century.

The conference is intended to generate recommendations for decisive action informed by scholars, scientists, governments, philanthropists, business, civil society and young people.

The conference co-hosted by UNICEF and WHO is a joint push to increase global prioritization of the alarmingly high rates of self-harm, suicide and anxiety among children and young people.

As per the latest data:

- Up to 20 per cent of adolescents globally suffer from mental disorders

- Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15-19-year-olds worldwide

- Around 15 per cent of adolescents in low-and middle-income countries have considered suicide

“Too many children and young people, rich and poor alike, in all four corners of the world, are experiencing mental health conditions,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

“This looming crisis has no borders or boundaries. With half of mental disorders starting before age 14, we need urgent and innovative strategies to prevent, detect and, if needed, treat them at an early age.”

UNICEF highlighted that child and adolescent mental health are often overlooked in global and national health programming despite the societal and economic cost of mental disorders.

“Too few children have access to programmes that teach them how to manage difficult emotions,” said Director-General of the World Health Organization Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Very few children with mental health conditions have access to the services they need. This must change".

Leading Minds 2019 will consider the resources, partnerships, services, political commitments and the public support necessary to promote the mental health of children and adolescents.

The conference will examine the latest scientific evidence on brain health throughout adolescence. Gaps in data that need to be addressed as well as successful programmes will also be taken under consideration.

Furthermore, it will also identify the overall prevalence of mental illnesses across ages and geographies along with causes and contributing factors. Programmes for the prevention and treatment of disorders as well as the promotion of healthy minds will also be discussed.

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