20% of youth suffer mental illness

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Mrs Cynthia Prah, addressing some youth and officials at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital to mark International Youth Day.
Mrs Cynthia Prah, addressing some youth and officials at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital to mark International Youth Day.

Mrs Cynthia Prah, Information Officer at the United Nations Information Center, said 20 per cent out of the 1.2 billion youth that made up the world?s population had mental illness.

Mrs Cynthia Prah, addressing some youth and officials at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital to mark International Youth Day.
Mrs Cynthia Prah, addressing some youth and officials at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital to mark International Youth Day.

She said a new publication from the United Nations (UN) had further indicated that mental health conditions were experienced each year by the world?s young people with the risk becoming greater especially as they transition from childhood to adulthood.

?1.2 billion out of the world?s population are youth and each year 20 per cent suffer from mental health condition according to a new UN publication,? she said.

Mrs Prah made the remarks when she read the UN Secretary General?s speech to mark the 14th annual celebration of the International Youth Day on Tuesday in Accra.

Speaking on the theme: ?The Youth and Mental Health,? Mrs Prah defined mental health as one?s feelings, emotions and well-being that prevents persons from leading a satisfying life.

She said the barriers were overwhelming, particularly in countries where the issue of mental health was ignored, as well as the lack of investment in mental health services.

Mrs Prah said: ?Too often, owing to neglect and irrational fear, persons with mental health conditions are marginalised not only from having a role in the design and implementation of development policies and programmes but even from basic care.

?This leaves them vulnerable to poverty, violence and social exclusion, and has negative impact on society as a whole?.

She said stigma and shame often compounded the problem which prevented them from seeking the support they needed.

?Young people who are already considered vulnerable, such as homeless youth, those involved in the juvenile justice system, orphaned youth and those having experienced conflict situations, are often more susceptible to stigma and other barriers, leaving them even more adrift when they are most in need of support,? she said.

Mrs Prah, therefore, called for wide ranging efforts as well as collective understanding, assistance and valuable contributions to help young people to flourish and have a better future devoid of mental illness.

?We have just about 500 days to reach the Millennium Development Goals, we must support all young people, especially those who are vulnerable to succeed in this historic campaign,? she said.

Dr Pinaman Appau, Specialist Psychiatric, Accra Psychiatric Hospital, said drug-related cases formed about 80 per cent of mental cases reported in hospitals with 91 per cent of youth being involved in drug abuse.

She said alcohol and cannabis formed the gateway for the youth to get involved in more drugs adding ?70 per cent of people who abuse drugs will be found dead by age 45?.

Dr Appau, however, identified that depression was also found extensively among females and youth in mental hospitals as a result of relationships they found themselves in.

She, therefore, encouraged and advised the youth to live well by staying away from cannabis and alcohol and not to bow to peer pressure.

Dr Lily Kpobi, a Clinical Psychologist, University of Ghana, said mental illness could be treated for victims to live good and healthy lives when the needed support from family, friends and loved ones were given.

She called on the public to shy away from stigmatising persons with mental problems in order to make the world a better place to live without they thinking the world was looking down on them.

Dr Kpobi advised the public to look out for social inappropriateness, absence of normal functioning and distress in persons and those around them as some of the factors that could lead to one?s mental dysfunction.

International Youth Day is celebrated on August 12, each year, to recognise efforts of the world?s youth in enhancing global society.

It also aims to promote ways to engage them in becoming more actively involved in making positive contributions to their communities.

GNA

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