Remarks by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore at the World Mental Health Summit – Global


As prepared

PARIS / NEW YORK, October 5, 2021 – “Your Excellency, Your Majesty, Dear Colleagues.

“My sincere thanks to the French government for hosting this World Summit on Mental Health.

“I also warmly thank Minister Véran and the French Ministry of Solidarity and Health for the support they gave to the launch this year of the UNICEF report on the situation of children in the world. This is our first report on child and youth mental health. .

“It’s been 18 long months for all of us – especially the kids. Children around the world have been excluded from classrooms, sequestered in their homes, and denied the daily joy of playing with friends. All the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Millions of families have been plunged into poverty, unable to make ends meet. Rates of child labor, abuse and gender-based violence are increasing.

“Many children are filled with sadness, pain or anxiety. Some wonder where this world is going and what their place in it is.

“Even in the absence of a pandemic, psychosocial distress and poor mental health plague far too many children – including millions who are forced out of their homes each year, scarred by conflict and severe adversity, or deprived of access to school, protection and support.

“Globally, it is estimated that more than one in seven adolescents aged 10 to 19 live with a diagnosed mental disorder. Almost 46,000 adolescents die by suicide each year, which is among the top five causes of death for this age group.

“When we ignore the mental health and well-being of children, we undermine their ability to learn, develop, build meaningful relationships and contribute to the world. When we ignore the mental health of parents and caregivers, we fail to help them feed and care for their children to the best of their ability.

“Today, UNICEF is launching our State of the World’s Children Report, our most comprehensive analysis of child, adolescent and caregiver mental health in the 21st century. We find that while children and youth bear the burden of mental health problems, there are insufficient systems in place to provide them with the support they need.

“This is why UNICEF calls on governments and public and private sector partners to engage, communicate and act to promote the mental health and well-being of all children, adolescents and caregivers. This includes three key actions:

“First: we need urgent public AND private investment in mental health services in all areas, including health, education, social protection and beyond. In other words, we need a whole societal approach to mental health.

“Next: we need to integrate evidence-based solutions in the health, education and social protection sectors. This includes parenting programs that promote responsive and empowering care and support the mental health of caregivers.

“And finally: we must all play our part in breaking the silence around mental illness. We must work to fight stigma and promote a better understanding of mental health.

“We hope that many of you here today will join our call to action. In this afternoon’s Child and Youth Mental Health Working Group, you will hear directly from young people about the issue. urgent action that is needed.

“To mark the launch of our report today, we have also set up a facility near the Summit building to raise awareness about child and adolescent mental health in France and around the world. The installation recalls the importance of involving young people. in mental health policy decisions.

“We encourage Parisians to visit throughout the day and show your support for child and adolescent mental health.

“For far too long, in low-, middle- and high-income countries, AND in humanitarian crises, we have seen too little understanding and too little investment in child and adolescent mental health.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has helped highlight the need for urgent action. We cannot let this generation down. It’s time to act.

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