Psychosocial distress and poor mental health afflict far too many children– including millions who, each year, are forced from their homes, scarred by conflict and serious adversity, and deprived of access to schooling, protection and support. With this edition of The State of the World’s Children, the first ever to focus on mental health, UNICEF is signaling its determination to listen – and to act.
Around the world, mental disorders are a significant and often ignored cause of suffering that interfere with children’s and young people’s health and education and their ability to reach their full potential.
- It is estimated that more than 13 per cent of adolescents aged 10–19 live with a diagnosed mental disorder as defined by the World Health Organization.
- Prevalence rates of diagnosed disorders are highest in the Middle East and North Africa, North America and Western Europe regions.
- Anxiety and depression make up about 40 per cent of these diagnosed mental disorders; the others include attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, intellectual disability, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, autism, schizophrenia and a group of personality disorders.
- The cost of inaction is great. An estimated 45,800 adolescents die from suicide each year, or more than 1 person every 11 minutes. Suicide is the fifth most prevalent cause of death for adolescent boys and girls aged 10–19; for adolescents 15–19, it is the fourth most common cause of death, after road injury, tuberculosis and interpersonal violence. For girls aged 15–19, it is the third most common cause of death, and the fourth for boys in this age group.
- Despite demand for support, median government expenditure on mental health globally is a mere 2.1 per cent of the median government expenditure on health in general.