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Youth mental health: Covid is only "the tip of the iceberg", Unicef

The Covid-19 epidemic has only worsened the mental health of children and adolescents worldwide, which requires more investment, Unicef warns in a report released Tuesday, October 5. "The consequences of the pandemic are far-reaching, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Even before it happened, far too many children with mental health problems were not being cared for," said Unicef Executive Director Henrietta Fiore in a statement.

The UN children's agency released a report Tuesday on children's mental health around the world, unveiled at an international conference on mental health in Paris called "Mind Our Rights, Now! Globally, "more than one in seven adolescents aged 10 to 19 years is estimated to be living with a diagnosed mental disorder", and "nearly 46,000 adolescents commit suicide each year, making it one of the five leading causes of death for this age group", according to Unicef. Yet, according to the report, "only about 2% of public health budgets are allocated to mental health worldwide."

"A sense of fear, anger and concern for the future"

According to Unicef, the situation has been exacerbated by the Covid pandemic and the restrictions it brought. "At least one in seven children worldwide has been directly affected by containment measures and more than 1.6 billion children have had their education negatively impacted," the organization points out. "The disruption of daily life, education, recreational activities, as well as concerns about family income and health, have generated in many young people a sense of fear, anger and worry for the future," it continues.

In its report, Unicef calls for "urgent investment in the mental health of children and adolescents". "Mental health is an integral part of physical health (...). For too long we have neglected, both in rich and poor countries, the importance of understanding this issue and investing sufficiently in this area", insists Henrietta Fiore.

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