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AKIPRESS.COM - Each year 20 per cent of the world's young people experience a mental health condition, the United Nations reported in a new publication launched to coincide with International Youth Daywhich this year shines a spotlight on the importance of mental health.
“The United Nations wants to help lift the veil that keeps young people locked in a chamber of isolation and silence,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day, stressing that mental-health should be talked about in the same way as overall health.
He noted that lack of access to mental health services, stigma, shame, and irrational fears leave people with mental health conditions “more vulnerable to poverty, violence and social exclusion, and negatively impacting society as a whole.”
Commemorating this year's theme “Mental Health Matters” at a half-day special event at the Headquarters in New York, the Secretary-General was joined by UN and civil society representatives, including his Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, and Mental Health Youth Advocates Alicia Raimundo and Jordan Burnham.
Also participating as Mr. Ban's special guest is a young student from Mozambique, Raquelina Langa. The UN chief visited Ms. Langa's school in the capital Maputo, where she asked him how a woman could become a UN Secretary-General.
The event also saw the launch of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs publication Mental Health Matters: the Social Inclusion of youth with mental health conditions. It reports that one-fifth of the young people around the world experience a mental health condition, with risks especially great during the transition from childhood to adulthood.
International Youth Day was also marked in UN peacekeeping missions. In Somalia, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Philippe Lazzarini, noted that the topic of mental health is particularly relevant for Somali youth.
In the Afghan capital, Kabul, the Ministry of Information and Culture, with the assistance and coordination of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), organized a high-level event about the importance of youth.