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09.10.2003 Health

World Mental Health Day to focus on children this year

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Accra, Oct. 9, GNA - This year's World Mental Health Day, celebrated on October 10, every year, would focus on the identification, treatment, and prevention of emotional and behavioural disorders. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that up to 20 per cent of children and adolescents, globally, suffer from impairing mental illness, while, suicide has been identified as the third leading cause of death among adolescents.

Documents made available to the GNA by the WHO showed that child and adolescent mental disorders impacted negatively on the development of affected individuals throughout their life.

This year's campaign would focus on adolescent substance abuse, suicide, autism, depression among children, children and families affected by HIV/AIDS, eating disorders, learning disabilities and sleep deprivation in children.

Mr Joe Quist, Deputy Director of Nursing Services at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, said emotional and behavioural disorders in children and adolescents were not uncommon in Ghana, adding that professionals in all the three psychiatric hospitals had handled such cases. He explained that a large proportion of such children were usually found in homes, which took care of the mentally retarded.

Problems among couples, families or neglect by parents sometimes drive children to become depressed, rebellious or put up aggressive behaviours, which affect their proper development.

He said some children got caught up in truancy and thievery because adults put up double standards.

Mr Ouist said such children ended up having developmental problems associated with emotional imbalances with its attendant problems of "wee" smoking and harmful behaviours found among adolescents. He said with parental love and tact such problems could be solved.

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