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Child and Adolescent Mental Health in the XXI Century

01 June 2019

Child and Adolescent Mental Health in the XXI Century

Statistics about the number of persons worldwide suffering from mental health disorders are at a shocking high.  It is estimated that 1 in 4 people are affected by a mental disorder at some point in their lives, and depression, in particular, will be the leading cause of disability worldwide by 2030.

At the Third UN High-level Meeting on Noncommunicable Diseases, it was stated that hundreds of millions of people suffer from mental, neurological and  substance use disorders, including depression, alcohol dependence, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and dementia. About 800 000 people each year commit suicide. A study published by the World Economic Forum and the Harvard School of Public Health demonstrates the global mental health costs (and their consequences), which will have risen to $ 6 trillion by 2030 compared with $ 2.5 trillion in 2010. These numbers exceed the corresponding economic expenses on cancer, diabetes and respiratory diseases altogether.

These statistics are even more distressing when related to children and youth. The majority of the world's population (about a quarter) are children and adolescents under the age of 15; about 40% are young people under the age of 25. According to the WHO data, 10–20% of the population within these age categories suffer from mental disorders, half of which develop before the age of 14, and three quarters – before the age of 20.  Globally, suicide is the third leading cause of death in adolescents aged 10-19 years.

About 10% of pregnant women and 13% of post-delivery women suffer from mental disorders. The latter group primarily suffer from a form of post-partum depression, which impairs functioning and can lead to suicidal thoughts in some cases. Such mothers’ condition in turn can negatively affect the development of children. More than a million children die each year due to premature birth complications, and many who survive suffer losses related to physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral development, which creates a significant burden for their families and society. Research has shown that 50% of mental disorders occur before the end of childhood, with anxiety (6.9%) and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (8.2%) being most common. 75% of mental disorders occur before the end of adolescence. According to research, 1.3 million adolescents died in 2012 for reasons related to, among other things, these illnesses, including suicide and interpersonal violence.  In 80% of adolescents, insufficient physical activity was noted, which can be co-morbid with non-drug addictions (e.g., Internet addiction) and eating disorders. Additionally, a common cause of death for adolescent girls is suicide due to unwanted pregnancy and sexual abuse. Behavioral disorders that tend to develop in this stage of adolescence are usually associated with drug use, crime, antisocial behavior, interpersonal and family problems, and poor physical health. It should be pointed out that adolescence is also a period where severe mental illnesses as schizophrenia and bipolar affective disorder can manifest[1]

These numbers indicate the crucial importance of preventive measures and rehabilitation services at the early stages of people's lives to preserve their mental health, develop their individual spiritual, physical, social and economic capabilities, which, in turn, are of primary value for the well-being and prosperity of any socio-economic system in modern society.

The III Congress on Mental Health: Meeting the Needs of the XXI Century aims to create favorable conditions for preserving and enhancing child and adolescent personal mental health, necessary for the healthy development of families, communities and societies and the future of human civilization.

On the eve of the International Children's Day, the first meeting of the Congress Russian Organizing Committee (CROC) was held at which medical and non-medical mental health problems of children and adolescents were discussed on the basis of interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral approaches. Thus, the members of CROC stated the necessity to use the research findings and success practices under the national public health programs including federal projects: “Strengthening public health” and “Supporting families with children" in accordance with the Russian national project “Decade of Childhood in Russia” (Decree of the President of the Russian Federation No. 240 of May 29 2017).

It was also emphasized that this prestigious international event continues the traditions of the II Congress, which was held in 2018 and became an authoritative international platform for the exchange of best international experience in the field of mental health carried out on the basis of interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral collaboration. This approach was highlighted by Professor Norman Sartorius at the second edition of the Congress in 2018: "I’ve been in the field of mental health for more than sixty years now, and I’ve never seen a country which has managed to bring the Ministries of Health, of Education, of Science, of Social Affairs, and Sport to talk about mental health".

It is planned that at the upcoming Congress, the topic of child and adolescent mental health will be presented in several thematic areas, suggesting the existence of deep interrelations and cross-cutting elements and covering research in the field of primary prevention, treatment and rehabilitation for various target groups of children and adolescents; maternity protection; training medical and non-medical specialists and non-specialists; and regulatory conditions for the realization of children's rights to mental health.

 

[1] The research sources please see in the concept paper of the III Congress on Mental Health: Meeting the Needs of the XXI Century

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