International Youth Day 2014
Tomorrow is International Youth Day, a time when the global community recognises young people as powerful agents for change and draws attention to the issues that affect the world’s 1.2 billion 15 to 24 year olds.
The UN declared 12 August International Youth Day (IYD) at the start of the millennium in order to promote an annual global discussion of youth-related issues. Like World Environment Day, the specific theme changes each year and events are held all over the world.
This year’s IYD theme is ‘Youth and Mental Health‘, a major issue considering the statistics: one-fifth of the world’s young people are suffering from some kind of mental illness, and 85-90% of these sufferers live in developing nations. Unfortunately, in many regions, mental illness carries a stigma, making people reluctant to seek help out of fear or shame. To address ways in which these negative associations with mental illness can be addressed, the UN is holding a special IYD event at its headquarters in New York City.
Though not explicitly on the agenda for this year’s IYD, the youth unemployment crisis is related to the ‘Youth and Mental Health’ theme. Those who are unemployed for prolonged periods are at risk of social exclusion, or a detachment from social and economic life. For young people living through such formative years, this social exclusion can have lasting effects on their self-esteem and perception of future prospects. The isolation, hopelessness and self-doubt unemployment brings can lead to chronic mental illness, particularly depression.
The UN is right to draw attention the mental health issue for this year’s International Youth Day. For the so-called ‘lost generation’ to cope with the rather unfortunate hand they’ve been dealt, they need their local and global communities to be supportive, tolerant and kind.
Sources: SALTO, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs
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