UNICEF launches #OnMyMind campaign to improve mental health support for young people

It starts with one moment, a conversation or just one question. Starting a conversation around mental health can help find support and identify areas to work together. To increase awareness on mental health and help strengthen support-seeking behavior among children and adolescents, the UNICEF country office in partnership with the education ministry launched ‘OnMyMind campaign’ today.

The campaign focuses on enabling children and young people to understand and open up that it’s okay to talk about mental health and seek help.

The three-month campaign will allow young people and children and parents and other caregivers to send their stories about how they are dealing with some of the challenges that they are facing at home or in schools or in communities.

“Those stories will encourage other people to start talking about what’s on their mind in terms of mental health both positive and negative,” said Dr Will Parks, UNICEF Country Representative.

The UNICEF country office also released State of the World’s Children Report 2021. The report examines mental health with a special focus on how risk and protective factors in the home, school and community shape mental health outcomes.

According to the report, an estimated 13 per cent of adolescents aged 10-19 is estimated to live with a diagnosed mental disorder. The report calls for commitment, communication and action as a part of a comprehensive approach to promote good mental health for every child, protect vulnerable children and care for children facing the greatest challenge.

“The lower middle-income countries have shown that for every one dollar spent on school based mental health promotion, we estimate we get 88 dollars back in return for every one dollar spent,” added Dr Will Parks.

“So, we can see investing in mental health particularly in schools, in homes supporting parents, supporting community health care workers and having the health sector also involved in terms of responding and caring for those who need help, we got great chance to improve mental health and wellbeing of everyone in Bhutan, particularly our children and young people.”

The report states that even before the pandemic, psychosocial distress and poor mental health afflicted far too many children. The pandemic has only made it worse. The disruption to routines, education and concern for family income and health amid the pandemic is leaving many young people feeling afraid, angry and concerned for their future.

According to the report, asking for help is a sign of strength. It shows self-awareness and courage to start to overcome something difficult and take the first step. Being healthy is the right of everyone, and this includes mental health as well as physical.

Meanwhile, as per UNICEF’s preliminary finding of an online survey undertaken last month, more than 4000 reported being sad and depressed from over 7000 respondents aged 10-24 years. And more than 3000 respondents said they would like to be asked how they were doing and being listened to. A detailed analysis is underway and will be shared in the coming months.

Sonam Pem

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