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1 in 6 Nigerian youths suffering from poor mental health – UNICEF

One out of every six young Nigerian aged 15- 24 is suffering from poor mental health, according to a report released by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday.

According to the report which was conducted in 21 countries including Nigeria, one in six young Nigerians surveyed said they often feel depressed, have little interest in doing things, or are worried, nervous, or anxious.

Available statistics show that almost 46,000 adolescents die from suicide each year globally, which is among the top five causes of death for their age group.

According to the report titled “The State of the World’s Children 2021; On My Mind: promoting, protecting and caring for children’s mental health”, UNICEF said the COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on children and young people. It warned that this impact has reached the “tip of the iceberg.”

UNICEF also said young Nigerians could feel the impact of COVID-19 on their mental health and well-being for many years to come.

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The Agency further noted that even before COVID-19, children and young people carried the burden of mental health conditions without significant investment in addressing them.

Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Nigeria Representative said, “It has been a long 18 months for us all– especially children. With the nationwide lockdowns and pandemic-related movement restrictions in Nigeria, children have spent indelible years of their lives away from family, friends, classrooms, play – key elements of childhood itself. They have also suffered an increase in violence and abuse, especially girls children.

“Even before the pandemic, far too many children were burdened under the weight of unaddressed mental health issues. This has been compounded by the pandemic. The impact is significant, and it is sadly just the tip of the iceberg,” Hawkins added.

According to the latest available estimates, more than 1 in 7 adolescents aged 10–19 are estimated to live with a diagnosed mental health problem globally.

Meanwhile, wide gaps persist between mental health needs and mental health funding. The report finds that about 2 percent of government health budgets are allocated to mental health spending globally.

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