The 2021 edition of The State of the World's Children — UNICEF's annual deep dive into how young people are faring globally in critical areas — provides a comprehensive look at the mental health of children, adolescents and caregivers in the 21st century. It is the first time the report has focused on mental health.
The report coincides with the launch of a new UNICEF campaign in support of the 1 in 7 adolescents who are living with a mental health disorder. #OnMyMind aims to help young people, their friends, families, and communities learn about mental health, start conversations that build connection and call on governments to urgently increase investment in critical services.
CAPTION // Fatu Turay and three of her nine grandchildren farm the family plot in Senthai Community, Magbema Chiefdom in the northwestern district of Kambia, Sierra Leone. Turay relies on various UNICEF-supported programs, including visits from a community health worker, a mothers support group and a Caring for the Caregiver program. “Raising my grandchildren was very stressful," Turay tells UNICEF, "because when they got sick, I never knew what to do.” CHWs taught Turay about health, nutrition and hygiene — “things I never knew before and these things have saved my grandchildren’s lives...Now that I farm and grow the right crops, and my grandchildren dispose of their defecation correctly, no one gets sick.”
This also means Turay has more time to rest. The program “made me realize that I, as a caregiver, also need care," she says. "When I’m stressed... I can always talk to my CFC counsellor. He advises me on how to handle my emotions and also the different emotions the children are experiencing. My CHW has taught me breathing exercises that I use to calm my anger then the children misbehave. He also taught me about the stress bucket which is a tool I now use. When I am experiencing a lot of negative emotions, I ask my grandchild to write them down on a piece of paper. Then, I put the paper into my imaginary stress bucket and throw it away. I always feel lighter after getting these things off my chest. The support I get from the CFC program keeps me going.”
Join the #OnMyMind campaign to help break the stigma around mental health.