Press Releases

SG/SM/8407
OBV/293
1 October 2002

‘BREAK THE SILENCE’ SURROUNDING VIOLENCE AGAINST YOUNG, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS ON WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY

NEW YORK, 30 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the occasion of World Mental Health Day, 10 October 2002:

This year’s World Mental Health Day is devoted to the effects of trauma and violence on children and adolescents. For millions of children across the world, violence permeates childhood and adolescence –- whether through abuse and neglect, sexual violence or gang violence. In several countries, such violence is on the rise. Global youth homicide rates have more than doubled since 1985.

Violence always leaves scars, but many of them are hard to detect on the surface. Children and adolescents need not be hit by a bullet or struck by a fist to suffer enduring damage. When neighbours are shot, when mothers are beaten, when society is under constant threat from crime or war, children can bear the marks of suffering for a long time. Often they struggle alone –- with family and friends ignorant of their plight, or unable to help.

We need to break the silence that surrounds this issue, and advance understanding of what can be done to help those affected. By applying innovative interventions, by training health workers to recognise the signs of trauma and depression, by helping families to support their loved ones, by breaking down the stigma surrounding mental disorders, and by openly discussing the full costs of violence to our young, we can make a difference. May this World Mental Health Day help draw greater awareness to the urgency of that mission.

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