Advocating for Mental Health as a Universal Child Right

(Family Features) Mental health and psychological well-being are essential for children, adolescents and communities to thrive. With crises in locations such as Ukraine, Syria, Turkey and Afghanistan, the mental health and well-being of children and young people around the world are causes for concern.

Globally, more than 1 in 7 adolescents ages 10-19 live with mental health conditions, according to UNICEF. Children and youth globally, including those in the United States, face challenges bridging the gap in terms of mental health needs and proper access to quality services.

The COVID-19 pandemic coupled with school closures and disruptions in learning impacted nearly 1.6 billion children globally. Anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions actively threaten children’s ability to be healthy and happy. Addressing key mental health and psychosocial issues to support their development can allow them to meaningfully participate in society.

Together, UNICEF and UNICEF USA are advocating on a local, national and global scale to provide children with the tools they need to support mental health. On a global level, the organizations are calling on Congress to pass the Mental Health in International Development and Humanitarian Settings (MINDS) Act, the first federal legislation that addresses mental health and psychosocial support through U.S. foreign assistance. It focuses primarily on populations with increased risk factors for developing mental health disorders including children and caretakers in crisis-affected communities, gender-based violence survivors, displaced populations and more.

Raising awareness, engaging youth and sharing resources to support parents, adolescents and children are core ways to address the current state of global mental health. To learn more about how you can support these efforts and call on elected officials to prioritize mental health services for children and caregivers in U.S. foreign assistance, visit or text “MINDS” to 52886.

Photo courtesy of UNICEF

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