Henrietta H. Fore, the UNICEF Executive Director, in her recent “An open letter to the world’s children”, described the 8 reasons why she’s worried, and hopeful, about the next generation. In the third place (after the need of clean water, air and safe climate, life in conflict and disaster zone) it is listed the need to talk about mental health and, more specifically, about the vulnerability of young people, the high risk of depression, self harm and suicide. “The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 62,000 adolescents died in 2016 because of self-harm, which is now the third leading cause of death for adolescents aged 15 –19. This is not just a rich country problem – WHO estimates that more than 90 per cent of adolescent suicides in 2016 were in low or middle-income countries. And while young people with severe mental disorders in lower-income countries often miss out on treatment and support, there is no country in the world that can claim to have conquered this challenge. To quote the WHO’s mental health expert Shekhar Saxena, “when it comes to mental health, all countries are developing countries.”
The Kazakhstan experience in suicide prevention is then described: “For example, in Kazakhstan, which has one of the highest suicide rates among adolescents worldwide, UNICEF stepped up efforts to improve the mental well-being of adolescents through a large-scale pilot programme in over 450 schools. The programme raised awareness, trained staff to identify high-risk cases, and ensured referral of vulnerable adolescents to health specialists. Nearly 50,000 young people participated in the pilot with many significant improvements in well-being. The programme has since been scaled up to over 3,000 schools”.
We are proud to remind that the UNICEF programme involved the EPA-SSSP Chair, Marco Sarchiapone (LINK)