Leveraging South-South and triangular cooperation in Advancing Child and Adolescent Mental Health in the context of COVID-19
Child and adolescents’ mental health is one of the most neglected areas of SDG3 (Good Health and Well-being). Mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, account for 16 per cent of the global burden of disease and injury among the world’s 1.2 billion adolescents (aged 10-19 years). Before COVID-19, it was estimated that 10 to 20 per cent of children and adolescents worldwide experience one form of mental health conditions or another with half of these health conditions beginning by age 14. One in four children was living with a parent who had a mental health condition. Adolescents’ mental health and well-being, growing incidences of self-harm, and high suicide rates are of increasing concern.
Despite the existing challenges, the pandemic has refocused attention on mental health issues especially of children, young people, and their families. Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) has been highlighted as an UN-wide priority in the global COVID-19 response. It is auspicious that the 12th High-level Forum of Directors General for Development Cooperation (DG Forum), its side event (Role of SSTC in sustaining PHC, RMNCH, UHC in the context of COVID-19), and some regional webinars (Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in the context of COVID 19: Implications for the Arab Region), gathered experts and practitioners from the global South to share knowledge and discuss the role of SSTC in sustaining essential health services, including mental health.
Meanwhile, UNICEF, WHO, and other UN entities have worked globally and adapted their services to local contexts to strengthen the resilience of children and their families, by diverse means of support, including providing capacity-building programs on MHPSS, engaging youth-led peer support, and promoting tele-mental health services. By recognizing youth mental health as a cross-cutting issue for health/HIV, child protection, early childhood development, and education, adolescent development and participation, gender, and disability, it brings a historic opportunity to escalate mental health interventions to the Universal Health Care packages, to maximize the gains of partnerships and knowledge sharing, and to build SSTC on meeting the mental health needs of populations, including children and adolescents.
- To review challenges and opportunities for countries of the global South in sustaining delivery of child and adolescent mental health services in the context of COVID-19 and in the post-pandemic period.
- To promote country-to-country learning on experiences, lessons learnt, and practical knowledge to bolster MHPSS within primary health care, universal health care, and other health services.
- To discuss how governments, development agencies, international organizations and other stakeholders can build strong partnerships to leverage SSTC in advancing child and adolescent mental health in order to help countries of the global South “build back better” in the context of COVID-19 and similar global crises.
Dr. Batool Fatima, Technical Officer, Department of Mental Health and Substance Use, WHO
Dr. Ahmad Hajebi, Director General of the Psychological and Social Health & Addiction Office, Ministry of Health and Medical Education, Iran
Dr. Liliana Ensisa, Head of El Chaco Adolescent Health Program, Ministry of Health, Argentina (Simultaneous interpretation Spanish-English)
Mr. Xu Jiannong, Director of National Youth Hotline Call Center and Beijing Youth Legal and Psychological Counseling Service Center, China (Simultaneous interpretation Chinese-English)
Dr. Anselm Hennis, Director of Department of Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health, PAHO/WHO
Moderator: Mr. Andrés Franco, Deputy Director Multilateral Partnerships, Public Partnerships Division, UNICEF
This was the tenth webinar of the CoP-SSC4C Webinar Series, which is organised by UNICEF, UNOSSC and IPC-IG. Please join the Online Community of Practice on SSC for Children (CoP-SSC4C) if you are interested in following recent discussions on the topic.