Including youth with mental health conditions

Including youth with mental health conditions (Photo: UNICEF/Kate Holt)

Encompassing more than one billion, today’s generation of youth is the largest the world has ever known. For some of them, mental-health conditions are the leading causes of adjustment problems, affecting their integration into society and employability. A new report has just been released by UN DESA’s Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) to shed light and raise awareness on this issue.

Although young people are generally considered a healthy age group, 20 per cent experience some form of mental-health condition, including behavioural disorders, which is expected to contribute significantly to disability and lost productivity across the life course.

To address this issue, a new report entitled “Social Inclusion of Youth with Mental Health Conditions”, has just been issued by DSPD based on a background paper prepared by a group of professors at the University of Virginia and John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The main objective of the report is to make use of available research on this topic to raise awareness and to start a global dialogue on how to address mental-health conditions among young people. There is often still considerable social stigma around such conditions and it is hoped that this paper can start a dialogue to discuss and consider how to best address these issues in an open format. The ultimate goal is to ensure that youth are fully integrated in society.

The report presents some key findings including that there is considerable burden and disability associated with mental-health conditions, particularly among those for whom the conditions start during youth. It also states that these conditions have a significant impact on youth development and that a public-health approach with preventive interventions is instrumental in addressing this issue at a global level.

In its recommendations, the report calls for more defined policies and programmes that have the potential to improve young people’s access to a full range of services. It also underscores the need to overcome stigma regarding mental-health conditions, to improve surveillance and programme monitoring and evaluation, as well as to conduct additional research.

To access the full report: http://bit.ly/19oRj7U

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